Seyfarth Synopsis: On June 10, 2021, the statewide Proclamation of Disaster Emergency in Pennsylvania ended. This resulted in the sunset of COVID-19 paid sick leave (“PSL”) mandates in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Per the terms of both mandates, eligible employees were entitled to use COVID-19 PSL for one additional week, i.e., through June 17, 2021.
On May 20, 2021, Governor Tom Wolf signed a renewal of the Pennsylvania Proclamation of Disaster Emergency due to COVID-19. Since that date he has not rescinded this Proclamation. However, as noted above, the Proclamation concluded earlier this month. This is because Pennsylvania voters gave the state legislature new authority over emergency declarations during a May 2021 primary election, and the legislature has since exercised that authority to end the Proclamation.
Specifically, on June 10, 2021, Pennsylvania’s state legislature approved House Resolution 106, ending the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency effective immediately. While that same day, the Pennsylvania Senate amended House Bill 854, which kept certain pandemic-related waivers of state regulations in place through September 30, 2021, there are no carve outs or exceptions for the COVID-19 emergency PSL laws in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. On June 15, 2021, Governor Wolf certified the results of the May primary election, thereby solidifying the legislature’s new authority and the effects of House Resolution 106 and House Bill 854.
Impact on COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave
The end of the Pennsylvania Proclamation of Disaster Emergency resulted in the sunset of the COVID-19 PSL mandates in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
In late-March 2021, amendments to the Philadelphia Public Health Emergency Leave (“PHEL”) mandate went into effect. The amendments provided eligible employees in Philadelphia with an allotment of 80 hours of 2021 PHEL (or a prorated amount for employees who work less than 40 hours per week) for use between March 29, 2021 and one week following the official termination or suspension of the public health emergency. The PHEL leave mandate covered a variety of COVID-19 related absences, including leave to receive and recover from COVID-19 vaccinations. The mandate notes that it sunsets upon the expiration of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency of the Governor of Pennsylvania related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As noted above, Pennsylvania’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic ended on June 10. Thus, the Philadelphia PHEL mandate ended on that date and eligible employees’ entitlement to PHEL benefits ended one week later on June 17.
In December 2020, Pittsburgh enacted Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave. Like the Philadelphia PHEL mandate, the Pittsburgh COVID-19 PSL mandate provided eligible employees with 80 hours of COVID-19 PSL to use for a variety of reasons related to COVID-19, including care of a family member who is self-isolating due to COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
The Pittsburgh COVID-19 PSL mandate states that the paid leave benefits are available to eligible employees until one week following the official termination or suspension of the COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration of the City of Pittsburgh, whichever is sooner. Because Pennsylvania’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic ended on June 10, eligible Pittsburgh employees’ entitlement to Pittsburgh COVID-19 PSL benefits ended one week later on June 17.
What Should Employers Do Now?
Given the sunset of the PHEL mandate in Philadelphia and the COVID-19 PSL mandate in Pittsburgh, businesses should review their workplace policies and postings and make any needed updates based on the recent developments. They should also ensure all paid time off for qualifying and covered reasons was given through the effective end dates of the respective mandates. Relatedly, employers should keep in mind that both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have non-COVID-19 PSL laws that may provide employees with protected leave for COVID-19 related reasons.
With the paid leave landscape continuing to expand and grow in complexity, companies should reach out to their Seyfarth contact for solutions and recommendations on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh paid leave benefits and paid leave requirements more generally. To stay up-to-date on Paid Sick Leave developments, click here to sign up for Seyfarth’s Paid Sick Leave mailing list. Companies interested in Seyfarth’s paid sick leave laws survey should reach out to email@example.com.
 While various state and local COVID-19 paid sick leave mandates have sunset in recent weeks, a number of these mandates remain in effect. Examples of COVID-19 PSL mandates that remain in effect include those in California, Massachusetts, and New York.
 More information on Philadelphia’s 2020 and 2021 PHEL mandates can be found here and here.