Below is a round-up of workplace compliance rules and regulations employers need to know to keep their business compliant. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.
Delaware HR and Workplace Compliance Regulations
Delaware Enacts Hair Discrimination Law
Who: Delaware employers
When: Effective immediately
What: On April 13, 2021, the governor of Delaware signed into law SB 32, which disallows employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of hairstyle. The measure amends the state’s existing anti-discrimination law to include protective hairstyles associated with race, such as texture, braids, locs, and twists. The Act also protects students and tenants from unequal treatment on the basis of hair texture or hairstyle.
- Review your policies and standards about appearance and update them as necessary.
- Educate managers about the new policies and the potential for bias in hiring and other employee-management practices.
Delaware COVID-19 State Regulations
UPDATE 12/3/20: Face Covering Mandate
Update 12/3/20: Governor John Carney issued a statewide mandate for everyone to wear a face covering any time they are indoors with someone who is not from their household. This mandate is effective from December 14, 2020 through January 11, 2021. Children who are two years old or younger are exempt from this mandate.
Update 8/26/20: The Delaware Division of Public Health published guidance for children wearing face coverings.
Update 7/7/20: The state of emergency was extended through the Twenty Third Modification of a State of Emergency.
Starting April 28, 2020, all residents must wear a fabric or soft cloth face covering when in public, including when using public transportation or ride-sharing.
For employees that work with the public, businesses must provide face coverings and hand sanitizer to employees by May 1, 2020. Employees that interact within 6 feet of other people must also wear face coverings. Businesses may deny entry to a customer that isn’t wearing a face mask. A face covering may include scarves or bandanas.
Washington, D.C. HR and Workplace Compliance Regulations
By April 2: D.C. to Publish Universal Poster and Launch Website
Who: District of Columbia employers
When: By April 2, 2021
What: The District of Columbia passed the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Support Act, which requires employers to post a universal notice in every break room and at every time clock. It summarizes employees’ rights under 10 statutes. The governor’s office will publish a model poster by April 2, 2021. Employers who post this poster need not adhere to the individual posting requirements under the separate acts.
By April 2, 2021, the D.C. governor will also create a website to notify employees of their employment rights under the 10 different employment statutes. Employers must compile all information on the new website into one single source, such as a binder. Employers need to place a copy of that single source at every location where they display the Universal Poster, and update the single source at least monthly. Employers may be fined $100 per day for failing to comply with the “universal notice” requirements.
- Post the Universal Poster in a conspicuous place accessible to all employees once it’s released.
- Create a single source, such as a binder, for all of the information on the new website. Place a copy of this single source in the same location(s) as the Universal Poster.
Washington, D.C. COVID-19 State Regulations
Face Covering Mandate
Update 7/22/20: Mayor Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2020-080: Wearing of Masks in the District of Columbia to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19. The Order states that through October 9, 2020, face coverings must be worn inside and outside in common areas and public transportation. Certain people are exempted from this rule, including children under 2 years of age and those individuals with certain health conditions.
Through June 8, 2020, employees, customers, and visitors of hotels, grocery and food market businesses, taxis, ride-sharing companies, or other private transportation providers are required to wear a mask or face covering.
UPDATED 11/8/20: FMLA and Unemployment Insurance
Who: Washington, D.C. employers
When: Effective Immediately
Update 1/12/21: Mayor’s Order 127 extended the District’s public health emergency order through March 31, 2021, which continues to make paid and unpaid COVID-19-related leave available to employees. As a reminder, any employee who has worked at least 30 days for any DC employer has access to 16 weeks of unpaid, job-protected COVID-19 leave during the public health emergency, provided they have not already used up the allotted time. Employers with 50-499 employees must provide employees with 2 weeks of paid sick leave for COVID-19-related reasons. For more details see the Updated COVID-19 Leave during Public Health Emergency.
Update 11/8/20: D.C. ACT 23-435/ B23-0983 (October 29, 2020) amends the unemployment law to provide qualified recipients an additional 7 weeks of federally funded benefits. This is for traditional and pandemic unemployment recipients.
Update 9/23/20: The District of Columbia extended the DC Family and Medical Leave Act through October 9, 2020. The DC Family and Medical Leave Act during COVID-19 English poster was updated to reflect the changes.
Update 7/10/20: The Act was has been extended to October 31, 2020.
Update: Under B23-0718 – COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act of 2020, employers must post in a conspicuous place the COVID-19 FMLA Posters (see below), which are effective until June 15, 2020. B23-0733 – COVID-19 Response Supplemental Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 was issued in April and is effective until July 20, 2020.
The District of Columbia passed the COVID-19 Response Emergency Amendment Act (the “Act”). The Act expanded the D.C. Family and Medical Leave Act (DCFMLA) by creating a new category, declaration of emergency (DOE) leave. DOE leave includes all employers in the District, regardless of the number of employees. Employees may use the DOE when they are unable to work during a public health emergency, as declared by the Mayor or other federal or state official, or if a medical professional has recommended that they employee isolate or quarantine themselves. DOE leave also does not require the 1 year of employment and 1,000 hours of work for eligibility that is normally required under the DCFMLA. The covered leave is indefinite during the public health emergency.
The Act also expanded Unemployment Insurance eligibility to employees who, following the Mayor’s declaration of a public health emergency, have been ordered to isolate or quarantine themselves by a federal or District agency or medical professional, or have decided to quarantine or isolate themselves consistent with recommendations from the Department of Health or other federal agency. Employees don’t need to certify that they are actively seeking employment under these conditions.
Additionally, unemployment benefits can be used if the employer doesn’t know when the employee can return to work or if the employee has reason to doubt that they will ever be able to resume employment with their employer. This expansion of rights is effective as long as the public health emergency remains in effect.
The Act also creates additional provisions and protections like:
- A small business grant program for nonprofits, local businesses, and independent contracts who don’t qualify for unemployment insurance;
- A ban on evictions and late fees for residential and commercial tenants;
- A ban on utility shut offs and the extension of public benefit programs;
- Placing limitations on price gouging and stockpiling;
- Allowing for delivery and carry-out sales for restaurants;
- Delays of retail sales tax payments by stores, restaurants, and the extension of corporate taxing filings, divers licenses, etc.
Inform your employees about the District’s expansion of the FMLA and how they can use these resources, should they need them.
As you continue to make your business decisions, inform your employees about their options for unemployment insurance as appropriate.
Maryland HR and Workplace Compliance Regulations
January 15: Montgomery County Changes Standard for Standard for Proving Harassment Effective
Who: All Montgomery County, Maryland employers
When: Effective January 15, 2021
What: The City Council of Montgomery County, Maryland passed Bill 1420 on October 16, 2020, which revises its Human Rights Law relative to harassment in the workplace. To be considered illegal, the harassment must be based on a protected characteristic, such as age or sexual orientation. The Bill defines harassment as verbal, written, or physical conduct when “a reasonable victim of discrimination would consider the conduct to be more than a petty slight, trivial inconvenience, or minor annoyance.”
The victim must also prove one of three elements:
- “Submission to the conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment”; or
- “Submission to or rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual”; or
- “The conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating a working environment that is perceived by the victim to be abusive or hostile.”
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when the employee can prove one of the three criteria above and the harassment meets the “reasonable victim” criterion.
- Update your anti-discrimination training and HR Manuals to incorporate the new standard.
- Train HR personnel and managers on the requirements of the new standard.
Maryland COVID-19 State Regulations
Update 8/19/20: The previous Executive Order 2020-04-15-01 has been rescinded and replaced with Executive Number 20-7-29-01. All residents ages 5 and older must wear a face covering outside when social distancing requirements can’t be maintained, and when individuals use healthcare services or public transportation, or when interacting with the public, or handling food. Exemptions from the Order can be found on page 10.
Under Executive Order 2020-04-15-01 and effective April 18, 2020, all Marylanders are required to wear face coverings, including cloth, when on public transportation, or when inside retail stores. Retail and food service Employers are required to have employees wear face coverings while working with the public.
Local jurisdictions may have other requirements that should be adhered to.
New Jersey COVID-19 State Regulations
Employers May Require COVID-19 Vaccines
Who: Public and private employers
When: Effective Immediately
What: In accordance with federal guidance, the New Jersey Department of Labor published guidance about employers mandating COVID-19 vaccinations as a term or condition of employment. On March 31, 2021, the New Jersey Department of Health published a what to do guide for COVID-19: When You’ve Been Fully Vaccinated.
The FAQ document clarifies that employers may mandate a COVID-19 vaccination but there are three exemptions to consider: disability, religious belief, and/or any recommendation from an employee’s physician that a pregnant or breastfeeding person should not receive the vaccine.
Employers may ask for verification of a disability or a pregnant or breastfeeding person who is exempt from vaccination. Employers can’t ask about an employee’s religious beliefs as a reason for vaccine exemption, unless there is an objective reason that couldn’t be considered discriminatory.
Reasonable accommodation must be offered to the employee unless the accommodation puts an undue burden on their operations. The guidance provides several accommodation options, like wearing personal protective equipment or working remotely.
In the case of existing collective bargaining agreements, employers will need to review the agreement regarding mandatory vaccination programs.
What Should You Do?
- Consult with legal counsel regarding a vaccine mandate for your business
- If implementing a vaccine requirement, work with employees on communicating exemptions, reasonable accommodations, and private medical information.
COVID-19 Safety Standards Effective November 6, 2020
Who: Employers who allow or require all or some employees to work on-site
When: November 5, 2020
Update 11/3/20: The state COVID-19 website released a support article, “How can people safely get together? What are limits for indoor and outdoor gatherings?“
In response to a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases, Governor Phil Murphy issued Executive Order No. 192 to impose health and safety standards from face covering requirements, daily health screenings, social distancing, regular disinfecting and sanitizing.
Social distancing. Everyone at the workplace must maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other, whether in a workplace meeting, orientation, and in common areas. If social distancing can’t be maintained, everyone must wear a face covering or install physical barriers between workstations.
Face coverings. Employers must require everyone, from employees to visitors, to enter the workplace wearing a cloth or disposable mask that complies with CDC recommendations. Employers must pay for and make face coverings available to their employees.
They may deny entry to the workplace if an employee declines to wear a face covering unless this violates other federal or state laws. An employer may require medical documentation if an employee refuses to wear a face covering because of a disability. In the case of a visitor or customer who declines to wear a face covering because of a disability, medical documentation isn’t necessary unless its required by a state or federal law.
Hygiene. Employers must ensure that employees practice regular hand hygiene, provide breaks for handwashing, and access handwashing materials and facilities. Employees may be required to wear gloves, although employers must supply them. Before shifts begin, employers must conduct daily health checks, consistent with CDC guidelines and privacy rules. Worksites and all common, high-touch areas, like bathrooms handrails, and doorknobs, must be disinfected regularly per CDC guidance.
Handling suspected COVID-19 symptoms or COVID-19 cases. If an employee displays signs of COVID-19, employers must separate the worker and send them home, abiding by all state and federal leave laws. If there is a known exposure to COVID-19 at work, employers must notify all employees and adhere to all federal regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act and EEOC.
Complaints. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD) will establish protocols and procedures for receiving complaints about health and safety violations.
Compliance training. DOWLD will develop compliance training for employers and employees and notices and information materials to inform workers about their rights and employers’ obligations to the Order.
Penalties. Violations can be up to 6 months imprisonment or $1,000 fines.
Unemployment Eligibility Expands
Who: Claimants who were eligible but exhausted their benefits or earned 40 times their unemployment weekly benefits rate.
When: Effective Immediately
What: The legislation that Governor Phil Murphy just signed, Assembly Bill A4852, expands eligibility for extended unemployment insurance benefits for up to an additional 20 weeks to those individuals who were eligible but exhausted their benefits OR earned 40 times their unemployment weekly benefits rate.
Previously, claimants qualified for the extended benefits if they were eligible but received all of their regular unemployment insurance benefits AND was paid during the base year 40 times the claimant’s weekly benefit rate.
Updated 5/24/21: Face Coverings Mandates Change May 28 & June 4
- People aren’t required to wear face masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of social distancing. People who aren’t fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Businesses or organizations that are responsible for public indoor spaces may impose stricter rules and shouldn’t restrict or penalize anyone from wearing a mask. Indoor public spaces do not include places like child care facilities, primary or secondary schools, and worksites that aren’t open to the public.
- People should wear face coverings when indoor places that aren’t “indoor public spaces,” unless they can maintain a distance of 6 feet.
- Food and beverage in-person indoor and outdoor service can resume at full capacity and don’t have to maintain 6 feet distance between tables or at indoor bar areas. Other businesses, like retail, personal care, health clubs, recreational businesses, may also operate at full capacity.
- Social distancing at indoor gatherings like weddings, religious services, catered events, sporting events, and performances will end. Businesses that operate these spaces may choose to require social distancing.
Starting June 4, 2021, indoor gathering limits will end. This includes:
- General indoor gathering limits of 50 people.
- The 250-person limit for large gatherings like funerals, weddings, performances, or commercial events.
- The 30% limit for indoor large venues with fixed seating of more than 1,000 people.
Also on June 4, employers may allow employees to stop wearing masks and social distancing, if they verify their vaccination status. Masks will still be required in settings like health care services, public transportation, child care centers, schools, and public-facing state agencies.
Update 7/8/20: Executive Order 163 was issued to mandate that beginning July 8, 2020, all residents and visitors must wear face coverings in outdoor spaces when social distancing requirements can’t be met and with people who aren’t members of the household. Exceptions to this requirement can be found starting on Page 4 of the Order. Face coverings are still mandated indoors for retail, personal care, transit services, recreational, entertainment and food and beverage establishments.
Governor Phil Murphy issued 2 Executive Orders requiring the use of face masks for certain businesses.
Effective April 10, 2020, Executive Order 122 mandates that essential retail businesses must require employees and customers to wear cloth face coverings. Businesses must provide face coverings and gloves to employees. Manufacturing, warehousing, and other businesses involved in essential construction projects are also required to provide face coverings to employees. Employees and visitors to these businesses are required to wear face masks. All businesses mentioned in the Executive Order must also adhere to other safety requirements.
Effective April 13, 2020, Executive Order 125 mandates that visitors and employees to the NJ TRANSIT, private carriers, and restaurants must require employees and visitors/customers to wear face cloth coverings. These organizations must provide face coverings and gloves to employees.
Extension of Earned Sick Leave, the Family Leave Act, and Temporary Disability Benefits
New Jersey took several actions to support workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, as detailed below.
Expanding the New Jersey Family Leave Act
Who: Employers with 30+ employees
When: Effective immediately and retroactively back to March 25, 2020.
What: Employees may now take family leave because of a declared state emergency from the governor, Commissioner of Health or other public health authority, for reasons including communicable diseases that cause an epidemic or the known or suspected exposure of a communicable disease, or any effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Employees may use the leave for one of 3 reasons:
- Child care as a result of a school closure or order from a public official due to an epidemic or other public health emergency
- An order from a public health official that determines the need for mandatory quarantine or care for a family member who has received an order from a public health official related to the epidemic.
- A health care provider or other public health official advises a family member to voluntarily self-quarantine and needs to be cared for by the worker.
Through this amendment, employees may take up to 12 weeks of family leave in a 24-month period. Employees may use intermittent leave for the above reasons, provided they give practical notice to their employer and make an effort to schedule the leave so as not to disrupt the employer’s operations, and if possible, provide a schedule to the employer of when they’ll use the intermittent leave.
Employers may require certification from a school, child care facility, public health official, or health care provider. The certification is acceptable if it includes:
- The facility’s closure date and reason for closure
- The date of an order to quarantine and the likely amount of time it will last
- The date of a recommendation, the likely amount of time the condition will last, and any medical facts related to the condition
Temporary Disability Law and Family Leave Insurance Law Amendments
This amendment clarifies the term “disability” and “family temporary disability leave” to include employees’ eligibility during a state of emergency or when a public health authority deems it necessary during a communicable disease epidemic (i.e., an illness caused be a communicable disease, a known or suspected exposure to the disease, or efforts to prevent its spread).
An employee must be able to show that the health care provider or public health official has stated that the employee’s presence may be a risk to others’ health and its recommended that the employee must isolate or quarantine.
The 7-day waiting period for temporary disability benefits doesn’t apply under these new definitions.
Employee Leave Benefit Guidance
Who: New Jersey employers
When: Effective Immediately
What: The New Jersey Department of Labor (DOL) provided COVID-19 related information about benefits and protections to employees. Using different scenarios, the DOL provided the following guidance:
Employees who have tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibit symptoms are entitled to use accrued and unused earned sick leave time under the New Jersey Earned Sick Leave Law. They may also be eligible for temporary disability insurance and workers’ compensation benefits.
For employees’ hours that are reduced by more than 20% per week as a result of COVID-19, they may be eligible for full or partial unemployment benefits.
If an employee is sent home because they may have been exposed to COVID-19, the employee may be eligible or unemployment benefits. This instance would be considered a temporary layoff and these particular employees wouldn’t have to show they’re able to and actively seeking work.
Employees may use accrued, unused earned sick time, if they have been told to quarantine themselves because of COVID-19; are unable to work because a public official closed their workplace or their child’s school or daycare closed, or have to care for a relative with COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
Employees that are caring for a family member with symptoms of COVID-19 or a positive test result, may be eligible for Family Leave Insurance.
Review your pay and leave practices to ensure they’re compliant.
Consult with legal counsel to review changes you make to your practices to ensure they’re compliant.
As necessary, work and communicate with your employees about their options.
Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
New York COVID-19 State Regulations
Pennsylvania HR and Workplace Regulations
Effective June 28: Pennsylvania Passes Living Donor Protection Act
Who: Pennsylvania employers covered by FMLA
When: Effective June 28, 2021
What: Pennsylvania passed the Living Donor Protection Act, effective June 28, 2021. Employers covered by FMLA are required to provide FMLA leave and protections to employees that donate all or part of an organ or tissue. The leave gives the employee time off of work to prepare for and undergo the procedure, and recover afterward.
The Act also requires employers to provide FMLA leave and protections for an FMLA-eligible employee to care for a spouse, child, or parent when that relative is the tissue/organ donor. It gives the employee time off to help the donor prepare for, undergo, and recover from the procedure.
- Review your policies and update them as necessary.
Effective Immediately: Philadelphia Begins Enforcement of Predictability Pay Requirements
Who: Philadelphia service, retail, and hospitality employers with 250 or more employees worldwide and 30 or more locations worldwide
When: Effective immediately
What: On March 1, 2021, the Philadelphia Department of Labor announced that as of June 1, 2021, it will begin enforcing the predictability pay requirements that are specified in the city’s Fair Workweek law. The city had previously put the provisions on hold on April 1, 2021, due to COVID-19. Predictability pay is the employee compensation employers must pay when they initiate changes to the posted work schedule, such as reducing hours or changing an employee’s shifts.
Employers must post an employee’s work schedule a minimum of 14 days ahead of time. If the employer initiates a change to said schedule, they must pay:
- An hour of predictability at the employee’s regular rate of pay if the employer 1) adds time to a shift or 2) changes the date, time, or location of a shift; and
- Half the regular rate of pay for any hours the employer cancels or subtracts from a regular or on-call shift.
The law contains certain exceptions to the requirement to pay predictability pay, including but not limited to:
- An employee is terminated,
- Employees agree to trade shifts,
- A ticketed event or hotel banquet outside of the employer’s control is changed, and
- Operations are disrupted due to an emergency.
- Review your policies and procedures and update as needed.
- Train managers on the new predictability pay requirements and what constitutes an employer-initiated change of schedule.
Effective Immediately: Philadelphia Strengthens Protections for Domestic Violence Victims
Who: Covered Philadelphia employers
When: Effective immediately
What: The City of Philadelphia issued File No. 210249 on May 11, 2021, which updates the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Ordinance and the Entitlement to Leave due to Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, or Stalking Ordinance. The ordinances allow for employees to take job-protected leave for certain reasons. The amendment now includes coercive control in the definition of domestic violence, meaning employees who experience coercive control are entitled to take leave.
Coercive control is defined as “a pattern of threatening, humiliating, or intimidating actions toward an individual used to punish or frighten the individual, including but not limited to a pattern of behavior that, in effect, takes away the individual’s liberty, freedom, or sense of self, safety, or bodily integrity.’
The new definition defines a number of specific actions that qualify as coercive control, including isolating the victim from support networks, damaging or taking the victim’s property or possessions, and displaying or referring to weapons as a means to intimidate or threaten.
- Review your policies and procedures and update as needed.
March 21 & April 1: Philadelphia Expands Background Screening Law
Who: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania employers
When: Effective March 21, 2021 and April 1, 2021
What: On January 20, 2021, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Mayor Jim Kenney signed three bills amending the laws that regulate employers’ ability to use criminal records and credit histories in the hiring process. The amendments are effective March 21, 2021 and April 1, 2021.
The amendments to Bill No. 200479 expand coverage under Philadelphia’s Fair Criminal Record Screening Standards (FCRSS) to gig workers and independent contractors working within the geographic boundaries of the city. The amendments also specify that the restrictions under the FCRSS apply to current employees, not just to applicants. Further, the amendments have changed “punitive damages” to “liquidated damages” up to $5,000 in the case of a legal claim.
Amendments to Bill No. 200413 remove bright-line exceptions to the law that disallows employers from using credit screening in employment decisions. Previously, law enforcement agencies and financial institutions were allowed to complete credit screening as part of the hiring process. Now they may do it only when a credit history is required pursuant to state or federal law or where the job requires the person to be bonded.
The Federal Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) governs all background checks for employment purposes. Philadelphia Bill No. 200614 updates its procedural requirements pursuant to an employer using credit history for an adverse employment decision to be in alignment with the FCRA. Employers must now follow the notification requirements as dictated by the FCRA.
- Update your background check and credit screening policies to ensure they comply with the amended laws.
Bill No. 200413
Pennsylvania COVID-19 State Regulations
Update 6/23/21: Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave Expires
Update 6/23/21: With the end of the Governor’s Proclamation that declared a state of emergency for Pennsylvania, Philadelphia’s Public Health Emergency Leave Law also expired. The Governor’s Proclamation concluded when Pennsylvania House Resolution No. 106 was passed. The city’s law included a provision that it would expire along with the “expiration of the Proclamation of Disaster Emergency of the Governor of Pennsylvania related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
What Should You Do? Inform your employees that the paid leave previously available isn’t anymore. Review the policies or handbooks that you used previously to document the paid leave and be sure to update them accordingly.
Update 3/31/21: A new Public Health Emergency Leave order went into effect on March 29, 2021 and will remain in effect until the city declares the end of the pandemic.
Who: The new law applies to employers with 50 or more employees who have been employed for at least 90 days and either work within the city, are telecommuting to work for a job that is located in the city, or spend 51% or more of their time working, whether from a mobile location or multiple locations, from within the city. This provision extends to union and non-union employees.
What: Leave is available immediately to all eligible employees for the following COVID-19-related reasons:
- Caring for themselves or their family member(s) exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms
- Caring for themselves or their family member(s) exposed to COVID-19 and needs to isolate
- Child care or school closures
- In order to get a COVID-198 vaccination or recover from an illness, injury, or disability related to the vaccination
Amount of leave: Full-time employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of leave, unless the employer allots a higher number of hours. For employees who work less than 40 hours/week, they should provided with leave that is equal to the average amount of time worked during a 14-day period.
Employees must request to use the leave with reasonable notice.
Employers must provide the 2021 COVID-19 Pandemic Paid Sick Leave Notice to Employees by April 13, 2021. Distribution to employees working remotely may be done electronically.
Previous Mandate Information
- Employers with 500 or more employees
- Medical practice employees (including nursing homes, hospitals, medical practice, and other health care workers)
- Other Philadelphia employees (full-time and part-time) not covered by the FFCRA
When: September 17, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
What: For those employees impacted by COVID-19, the City Council has passed a new ordinance that opens up 2 weeks of paid sick leave for the following circumstances:
- Self-quarantine as directed by a government or medical order
- Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
- Caring for a sick or quarantined household member
- Caring for a child whose care facility or school was closed because of COVID-19
Under certain circumstances, employees may not be eligible, including:
- Employees who can telework
- Employees who already receive 10 days of paid sick leave or PTO under an employer’s existing policies
There is a posting requirement that employers distribute a notice of the ordinance’s benefits to remote workers through email or a website posting.
Updated 11/18/20: Face Covering Mandate
Update 11/18/20: The Pennsylvania Department of Health issued a new face covering mandate effective November 18, 2020. Although there are exceptions to the mandate (found on pages 3 of the Order), all state residents are required to wear face coverings when they are outside and can’t maintain physical distance, indoor spaces with anyone who is not part of the individual’s household, any indoor physical activity with with people not part of your household, waiting for or riding on public transportation, anywhere food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution, enclosed common areas, and when obtaining any services from a health care facility.
As part of the November Order, businesses must require all people to wear a face covering, work to provide reasonable accommodation or remove anyone who cannot wear a face covering, post prominent signs. Businesses shouldn’t enforce the face covering requirement if it isn’t safe, restrain, assault, or physically remove anyone who refuses to comply with the Order, or violate any other state or federal anti-discrimination laws.
Update 7/6/20: The Order of Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Requiring Universal Face Coverings was issued for all residents to wear a face covering in public indoor spaces and outdoor spaces where social distancing requirements can’t be met. Exceptions to the mandate can be found on the Order starting on page 3.
Starting April 15, 2020, life-sustaining businesses, like grocery stores and hospitals, must protect their employees by providing them with masks that meet the Department of Health and CDC guidelines, in addition to observing other social distancing, sanitation, and hygiene requirements. More information can be found in the Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Order.
State residents are encouraged to wear cloth face coverings in public.
Update 6/23/21: Pittsburgh Emergency Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Expired
Update 6/23/21: With the end of the Governor’s Proclamation that declared a state of emergency for Pennsylvania, via Pennsylvania House Resolution No. 106’s passage on June 10, 2021, Pittsburgh’s Temporary Emergency COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Act expired on June 17, 2021.
The city’s law included a provision that it would expire along with the “expiration of either the COVID-19 emergency disaster Declaration in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the COVID-19 emergency disaster Declaration of the City of Pittsburgh; whichever is sooner.”
What Should You Do? Inform your employees that the paid leave previously available isn’t anymore. Review the policies or handbooks that you used previously to document the paid leave and be sure to update them accordingly.
Who: Employers with 50+ employees
When: Effective December 9, 2020 until 1 week after public health emergency ends
What: The City Council passed a Temporary COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Ordinance that requires employers to provide up to 80 hours of paid COVID-19-related sick leave on top of the leave that employers already provide their employees.
This additional 80 hours of sick leave is extended to employees who work 40+ hour/week. Part-time employees qualify for an amount of paid sick leave that is equal to the amount they are scheduled to work during an average 14-day time period. The sick time may be used intermittently and can be used immediately without a waiting period or accrual.
Qualifying employees are those people who have been employed by the business for at least 90 days and meet one of the following criteria:
- Are currently working or teleworking in Pittsburgh
- Normally work in Pittsburgh but are currently teleworking because of the pandemic
- Work in multiple locations but 51% or more of their time is spent working in Pitsburgh
Qualifying reasons to use the COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave are:
- A public health official, public official, or health care provider has determined that the employee or employee’s family member have been exposed to COVID-19 or is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and is a hazard to the health of others.
- The employee needs to isolate, or care for a family member that needs to isolate because the employee or family member is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have a COVID-19 diagnosis, or when the employee or family member is seeking care, treatment, or a diagnosis related to COVID-19.
The Ordinance makes it clear that employers can’t change their leave policies in order to avoid providing COVID-19 Sick Time. Employees can choose to use COVID-19 Sick Time before other types of leave unless the law requires otherwise. Employers may substitute other leave or sick time for the COVID-19 Sick Time if:
- Other federal or state laws require paid time off for COVID-19-related reasons and permit the concurrent use of paid leave.
- The employer implemented a paid sick leave policy after March 13, 2020 to use during the pandemic.
Hazard Pay Grants Available
Who: Front-line workers
When: July 16, 2020 through July 31, 2020
What: Up to $50 million in reimbursement-based grants have been made available through the CARES Act to employees in life-sustaining occupations that have been working through the pandemic.
Businesses, health care non-profits, public transportation agencies, certified economic development organizations are all eligible to apply for the grants.
The following industries are eligible for the grants: health care and social assistance, ambulatory care services, hospitals, nursing and residential care facilities, transportation, food manufacturing, food retail, security services for those industries named above, janitorial services.
Grants may be used for full-time and part-time employees earning $20/hour or less, excluding fringe benefits and overtime for the period between August 16, 2020 to October 24, 2020. Applicants may apply for up to $1,200 per eligible full-time equivalent employee with $3.00 hour hazard pay.
Employers may apply for a grant to provide pay for up to 500 eligible full-time equivalent employees per location.
Automobile Sales and Construction Details
Automobile Virtual Sales
Through signed legislation, SB 841, vehicles sales can now be conducted online. Dealers must follow a process forpreparing and sending all documents electronically to the customer, remote notarizing, electronic financing applications, adhering to CDC and DOH guidance in hand off or trading of vehicles, among other things.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation has outlined best practices for items like pre-verification and ownership transfer that dealers should follow to complete virtual sales.
All details of the information mentioned and more can be found here.
Beginning May 8, 2020, residential and non-residential construction businesses may begin to reopen, as long as they follow strict guidelines for social distancing, employee number limits, and additional industry specific safety requirements.
Non-Life Sustaining Businesses Order
Who: Pennsylvania employers and employees
When: March 19, 2020
What: Governor Tom Wolfe ordered the closure of all non-life sustaining businesses to close in Pennsylvania until further notice. Violations of this order will be met with citations, license suspensions, administrative actions, termination of state grants or loans, forfeiture of disaster relief funds, and criminal penalties.
The following industries may keep their physical locations open (this list is subject to change):
- Natural resources and mining;
- Wholesale trade, excluding furniture, lumber, apparel, and electronic wholesalers;
- Retail trade like automotive stores, grocery stores, beer, wine, liquor stores, gas stations, general stores, electronic and mail-order houses;
- Transportation and warehousing;
- Information like media, data processing, cable program providers, hosting services;
- Financial institutions;
- Professional services like scientific research and development, facilities support, investigation and security, building services, waste management;
- Health services;
- Accommodation and food services; and
- Other services like repair and maintenance services, funeral services, religious, grantmaking, social services, civil and social organizations.
All other businesses can continue to operate remotely.
- Determine if your business must close, whether you can send employees home to telework, and how to implement social distancing rules and hygiene safety.
- When you’ve developed a plan to respond to new regulations, consult with your legal counsel to ensure it’s compliant with the state rules.
- Build a communication strategy to implement these changes in your workforce.
- Provide support to your employees during this time and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
- There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.
Self-Certification Program FAQ (September 2020)
Responding to COVID-19 (June 2020)