As of July 1, 2012, several employers in Philadelphia now have to provide their employees with paid sick leave.  Pursuant to an amendment to Chapter 17-1300 of the Philadelphia Code, titled “Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard,” certain entities providing services to, or receiving financial aid from, the City of Philadelphia must provide up to a maximum of 56 hours, or 7 days, of paid sick leave to all full-time, non-temporary, non-seasonal covered employees.  In certain circumstances, a covered employer can seek partial or total waiver of the paid sick leave requirement from the Philadelphia Office of Labor Standards. For example, if a covered employer contends that it is unable to pay all or part of the paid sick leave or if the paid sick leave is waived by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement, an employer can seek a waiver of the paid sick leave requirement.

Notably, there are penalties if a covered employer fails to comply with the paid sick leave obligations. Covered employees who believe that their employer failed to provide them with the minimum paid sick leave benefit may bring an action against an employer for back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs. It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate or discriminate against a covered employee who claims his or her employer violated Philadelphia’s paid sick leave requirement. Finally, following notice and a hearing, a covered employer found to have failed to comply with Philadelphia’s paid sick leave requirement may be suspended from bidding on or participating in City contracts for up to three years.

So what should you be doing to ensure compliance with this ordinance?  As an initial matter, you will want to determine whether you are covered as an “employer” under the Philadelphia 21st Century Minimum Wage and Benefits Standard. If you provide services to the City, either through a direct contract or a subcontract, you will need to consider the size of the contract, the amount of your gross receipts, and whether your business is a for-profit or non-profit entity.  If you are a covered employer, you should review your leave policies and revise your policies as necessary to provide no less than the amount of paid sick leave required under Chapter 17-1300 of the Philadelphia Code.