For some workers, having to take a sick day means not getting paid. That may simply not be an option for those hard-working employees who are struggling to make ends meet. Instead, they come into work, and run the risk of getting sicker and spreading germs to other employees. Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that the city of Pittsburgh must offer guaranteed paid sick leave to workers. While some small businesses and restaurant associations have sued and won in the lower courts, the Supreme Court ruled that the paid sick leave ordinance gives the city authority to further the cause of disease control and prevention.
Paid Sick Leave Ordinance
In a 4-3 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Pittsburgh’s 2015 ordinance was allowed to stand. The decision will impact the roughly 50,000 lower-income workers who did not have access to paid sick leave. According to the ordinance, employers with 15 or more employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year. Employers with up to 14 employees must provide up to 24 hours of paid sick leave per year. It is unclear exactly when this will take effect.
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said that the decision will have a significant impact on the men and women who live and work in the city. He went on to say that no worker should be forced to decide between staying home sick and losing a day’s pay or coming to work and risk getting others sick. Prior to the ruling, the home rule charter law did not require Pittsburgh employers to offer paid sick leave. The law states that municipalities should not be responsible for requirements placed on employers or businesses. However, the Supreme court overturned this decision.
Those opposed to the ruling argue that decision is going to be particularly hard on small businesses. However, advocates of paid sick leave argue that, in addition to offering improved benefits to employees, it helps prevent the spread of illness, reduces the cost of healthcare, and ensures that parents will be able to care for sick children or other family members.