Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

In August 2015, the Pittsburgh City Council passed and Mayor Peduto signed into law the Paid Sick Days Ordinance. The law would have required employers doing business in the city of Pittsburgh to provide paid sick leave to employees in the amount of one hour for every 35 hours worked.

In September 2015, a group of businesses – mostly restaurants – challenged the ordinance. The argument was that Pittsburgh is a home rule charter municipality. Under Pennsylvania law, no such municipality may impose requirements on businesses unless those requirements are applicable to all municipalities. There is an exception for rules related to general health and the prevention of disease. The city’s argument was that the sick leave ordinance fell under the health and prevention of disease exception.

In late 2015, a trial court sided with the businesses and granted relief from the city’s ordinance. The city appealed, and on May 17, 2017, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court upheld the lower court’s decision. The ordinance was ruled to be invalid because of the city’s status as a home rule charter municipality. The court rejected the city’s argument related to the general health and prevention of disease exception. The court stated that in order for a requirement to fall under the exception, the municipality must have a board or department of health, and Pittsburgh does not.

The city has once again indicated their intention to appeal the decision, but for now employers are not required to be in compliance with the ordinance. We will continue to report any developments.

Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Ruling »