What is the new Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave Law? Beginning 5/13/2015, employees in the City of Philadelphia are eligible for paid sick leave.


What types of employees are covered by the Ordinance? Eligible employees include all full-time and part-time employees who work at least 40 hours per year in the City of Philadelphia.


What do I need to do now? For employers with 10 or more employees in Philadelphia, check your paid sick leave and/or PTO policies and procedures to ensure they comply with the Ordinance. Update your notices and employee handbooks to include information about the Ordinance. Make sure you have a recordkeeping system in place to track the accrual, use, and payment of sick leave. Employers with less than 10 employees will be required to provide unpaid sick leave on the same terms.



Eligible Employees

Eligible employees include all full-time and part-time employees who work at least 40 hours per year. However, the Ordinance excludes independent contractors, seasonal workers, interns, employees hired for a term of less than six months, adjunct professors, pool employees, state and federal employees, or employees covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement. Employers who are already providing employees with as much or more paid sick leave for the same purposes and under the same conditions as stated in the Ordinance will not be required to provide additional paid sick leave.


Accrual and Caps

Beginning 5/13/2015, eligible employees will accrue sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked, with a cap of 40 hours per calendar year unless the employer permits a higher limit. Employees must be employed for at least 90 days before they are eligible to use any accrued sick leave. Unused sick leave carries over to the next year; however, the cap for use of sick leave per calendar year still applies (i.e., 40 hours, or a higher if the employer permits).


Permitted Uses

Employees may use sick leave for their own qualifying need or that of a family member for:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of an existing health condition
  • Preventative care
  • Issues related to the employee being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking

Employers may require that sick leave be used in reasonable minimum increments of an hour or any smaller increment used by the employer to account for absences.


Employee Notice and Documentation

Sick leave must be provided upon oral or written request from the employee. However, employees are required to provide reasonable advance notification if the need for sick leave is foreseeable. If the need for sick leave is unforeseeable, then the employee must provide the employer with notice as soon as practicable.

An employer may only require reasonable documentation from an employee if s/he uses sick leave for more than two consecutive days. However employers are not permitted to require documentation of the nature or details of the illness or violence.


Employee Notice and Documentation

Employers must provide notice to employees of their right to sick leave, including details and terms of the sick leave. Notice can be provided either (1) by written notice, or (2) by displaying a poster prepared by the city in a conspicuous and accessible location. If the employer has an employee handbook, it must include the same information.



Employers are required to maintain records of the hours worked, amount of sick leave taken, and any payments made to employees for sick leave. The records must be kept for two years, and upon request, employers must make these records available to the city enforcement agency.



The Ordinance prohibits employers from retaliating or discriminating against employees who exercise their rights under the Ordinance, or participate in an investigation or prosecution of any alleged violation of the Ordinance. If an employer takes adverse action against an employee within 90 days of the employee exercising his/her rights under the Ordinance, it is presumed as unlawful retaliation unless the employer can prove otherwise.


Penalties for Non-Compliance

Penalties for failure to comply with the Ordinance include the following:

  • Posting: Willful violation of the posting requirements is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $100 per offense.
  • Withholding Paid Sick Time: An employee is entitled to the dollar amount equivalent of any paid sick time withheld. The employee may also request liquidated damages in an amount not to exceed $2,000, as well as attorneys’ fees.


The information and materials on this blog are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or tax advice. Information provided in this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments and may vary by jurisdiction. The content on this blog is for general informational purposes only and does not apply to any particular facts or circumstances. The use of this blog does not in any way establish an attorney-client relationship, nor should any such relationship be implied, and the contents do not constitute legal or tax advice. If you require legal or tax advice, please consult with a licensed attorney or tax professional in your jurisdiction. The contributing authors expressly disclaim all liability to any persons or entities with respect to any action or inaction based on the contents of this blog.

Bonnie Mangels – Bonnie is the Corporate Counsel and Senior Compliance Manager for Sequoia. When not inundated in paperwork and legal briefs, her interests include arts and crafts, bunnies, and the Bay Area.