Pennsylvania’s Paid Sick Leave Ordinance May Be Put On Permanent Bed Rest but Trenton’s Ordinance Survives Court Challenge

In response to the growing trend of municipalities enacting paid sick leave ordinances, business groups are trying to fight back. On April 15, 2015, the Pennsylvania Senate passed a bill that would overturn Philadelphia’s new paid sick leave law. In New Jersey, however, a court challenge to Trenton’s paid sick leave ordinance has hit a roadblock.

The City of Philadelphia paid sick leave law ─ the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Ordinance ─ was signed on February 12, 2015 making Philadelphia the first, and thus far only, municipality in Pennsylvania to pass such a law. The Ordinance requires employers with 10 or more employees to provide full- and part-time employees who work at least 40 hours per year in Philadelphia to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours per year. The Ordinance, which is set to take effect on May 13, 2015, is now in jeopardy after the Pennsylvania Senate has passed Senate Bill 333, by a 37-12 vote. The bill would prevent municipalities in Pennsylvania from adopting paid sick leave ordinances and only require business owners to offer workers paid sick leave in accordance with state or federal law. The bill’s sponsor, Senator John Eichelberger, R-Blair, stated that the intent of the bill was to promote statewide uniformity as opposed to allowing each municipality to create its own leave laws. Currently, legislation requiring paid sick leave is pending at the state level.

Neighboring state, New Jersey, currently has eight municipalities that have passed paid sick leave ordinances (Montclair, Trenton, Newark, Jersey City, Irvington, East Orange, Paterson, and Passaic) and paid sick leave legislation is pending at the state level. The ordinance in Trenton was the subject of a recent lawsuit filed by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association and five other employer-side organizations who argued that the ordinance is a burden on small businesses, and goes beyond the police powers of the municipality. At a court hearing on April 16, 2015, Mercer County Superior Court Judge Mary C. Jacobson found the plaintiffs’ arguments unconvincing and dismissed the lawsuit. For more information on the Trenton paid sick leave ordinance, please see our past blog post, Paid Sick Leave is Gaining Momentum in New Jersey.

For questions regarding paid sick leave laws in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and leave laws generally, please feel free to contact an attorney in the Gibbons Employment & Labor Department.

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