Employers are no stranger to the introduction of paid leave mandates by local governments, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a resurgence of paid leave legislation being introduced in the Commonwealth – most recently, in Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh. This week, Allegheny County Council voted 10-4 to require most employers in the county to provide an hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked.
Ultimately, the measure was vetoed by Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald on the grounds that such regulations “should be instituted by the Department of Health” – not the council. Interestingly, while Fitzgerald noted that the council could override his veto if they so choose, the fate of the legislation is now in doubt. Despite previously voting for the mandate, one councilmember has since said they will not back an override due to a concern that the county’s Board of Health should be establishing health-related regulations such as a paid sick day requirement. His defection would leave Council short of the votes necessary to override the veto.
In the southeast corner of the state, Philadelphia City Council unanimously passed legislation to expand and extend its Public Health Emergency Leave law in response to COVID-19. The measure requires that from now until the end of the pandemic disaster declaration, businesses provide up to 80 hours of paid leave to their employees in order to quarantine and recover from the virus; care for a family member or a child who has or needs to be quarantined due to COVID-19; to receive a vaccine and; or to recover from any side-effects after taking the vaccine.
The PA Chamber has long opposed paid leave mandates that impose additional administrative and financial hurdles for businesses and prohibit employers from implementing policies that take into account their own unique workplace needs of each business.