Interpreting the state’s Home Rule Charter Law, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania upheld the City of Pittsburgh’s authority to enact the Paid Sick Days Act. This July 17, 2019 opinion reverses the decision of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania and frees the PSDA from four years of legal limbo.
The Home Rule Charter Law limits the City’s authority to regulate business “except as expressly provided by statutes… Determining whether a statute provides “an express grant of authority” is a “vexing question,” the Court said. It held that Pittsburgh has the right to protect the health and safety of its residents under various statutes and that the Paid Sick Days Act was an exercise of that right.
The PSDA was initially enacted in 2015 and was to be effective in January 2016 but had been enjoined pending the outcome of the legal proceedings. Pittsburgh must now decide when it will begin enforcing the PSDA and how it will deal with the fact that employers were supposed to have allowed employees to accrue and use sick leave under the PSDA for the past 3 1/2 years.
The Pittsburgh Sick Days Act hews to the typical architecture of a paid sick time law. Employees of employers with at least fifteen employees would accrue one hour of paid time for every 35 hours worked, to a maximum of 40 hours annually. Employees of smaller employers would accrue up to 24 hours of unpaid time during the first year of the law and paid time in subsequent years.