COVID-19 Labor Law Fact Sheet

By Teresa Rodriguez

Disclaimer: The following is not formal legal advice. It is the author’s assembly of important information from the sources linked below.

COVID-19 Labor Law:


Philadelphia New Sick Leave Mandate
  • Employers must pay out any sick time earned to employees laid off due to COVID-19-related business closures (applies to layoffs occurring March 16th or anytime after) 
  • Employees experiencing any symptom typical of COVID-19 must not come to work
  • Sick employees may return to work only after 3 days have passed with no fever and at least 7 days have passed since symptoms began 
  • Employees who had any contact with a confirmed COVID case for 10 minutes or longer must stay home for 14 days after this contact.
  • Employers cannot require proof of COVID-19 testing as a prerequisite to an employee receiving sick leave 
  • Employees do not have to provide a note from a medical professional in order to use consecutive paid sick leave during COVID-19
Philadelphia Safety Measures for Essential Businesses 
  • Employers must provide employees with access to regular hand washing with soap, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes
Employee Protections in Connection with COVID-19 Emergency Health Order
  • Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who report a violation of a COVID-19 public health order in the workplace
  • Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who refuse to come to work due to the violation of a COVID-19 public health order
  • The employee must first alert the employer to said violation 

The employee cannot refuse to work if:

  • An employer provides an alternative work assignment that does not expose the employee to the unsafe condition
  • The Department of Health (State or City) determines that the business is compliant with all public health orders


New Mandated Safety Measures for Essential Businesses 

  • As of April 19th, essential businesses in PA must provide face masks to employees and require that customers wear face masks when they enter stores
  • Occupancy of stores must be limited to no greater than 50% of the maximum occupancy
  • Signage must be placed throughout the workplace to mandate social distancing
  • Business hours must be altered to allow sufficient time to clean or restock
  • Barriers must be installed at registers
  • Business hours specifically designated for high risk/elderly customers must be provided at least once a week
  • Only half of a store’s registers can be used at a time, and must be switched every hour, with the half just used getting cleaned in between
  • Employers must schedule hand washing breaks for employees at least once every hour 
  • Upon discovery of an exposure to a person who is a probable or confirmed case of COVID-19, businesses must implement temperature screenings before employees enter the store and send anyone home with a temperature above 100.4 degrees
  • In the event of a possible employee case of COVID-19, businesses must close off and ventilate areas visited by that individual, wait a minimum of 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection, and notify employees who were in close contact with the individual (close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of them for 10 minutes)


Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
  • Employers with 500 employees or less must provide 2 weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for any employee experiencing symptoms of COVID-19
  • Applies to all employees, including those who are new or part-time
  • Employees who need to take care of an individual subject to quarantine are also entitled to the same amount of paid sick leave at two thirds of their regular rate of pay
  • Law remains in effect for the entirety of 2020
  • Businesses will receive financial assistance to cover the costs of providing leave in the form of tax credits

Everyday Labor Law:


Philadelphia Sick Leave Law
  • Employers with 10 or more employees (full-time, part-time, or temporary) must provide paid sick time
  • Paid sick time is to be compensated at the same hourly rate and with the same benefits (including health care benefits)
  • Employers with less than 10 employees must provide unpaid sick time
  • All employees in the city shall accrue a minimum of one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked
  • Can accumulate up to 40 hours of sick time in a calendar year (unless employer sets a higher limit)
  • An employer cannot require an employee to find their own replacement to cover their shift
  • Employers must give notice of this law through either employee handbooks or a poster displayed in the workplace
Scheduling Regulations for Chain Businesses Operating in Philadelphia

Retail/food service/hospitality establishments with 250 or more employees and 30 or more locations worldwide must:

  • Not limit hours with the intent to exclude employees from Affordable Care Act benefits (health insurance eligibility) 
  • Provide a written estimate of the number of hours employee can expect to work per week over typical 90-day period upon hiring
  • Post schedules no later than 10 days before first day of any new schedule
  • Pay employee Predictability Pay in addition to regular hourly for any changes made by the employer to the schedule more than 24 hours after posting 
  • Pay an employee half their hourly rate for every hour they were supposed to be working if they lose hours due to this schedule change
  • Pay an extra $40 to any employee working a shift that occurs less than 9 hours after the end of the previous day’s shift, and must attain the employee’s consent to such a shift in writing


Pennsylvania Labor Relations Act, Public Employee Relations Act
  • Except for certain workers in the public sector (such as prison guards and employees of state courts), all PA employees have the right to strike


National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
  • “Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection” NLRA; Tit. 29 U.S.Code Sec. 7. [§157.]
  • Employers cannot stop employees from organizing or take action against them
  • Employers cannot refuse to bargain collectively with employee representatives
  • Law applies to all private sector employees who engage in interstate commerce
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
  • Employers with 50 or more employees are required to offer health insurance to each full-time employee (anyone working an average of at least 30 hours a week)
Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Employees of businesses with 50 or more employees are entitled to take an extended leave of absence for a number of reasons that include illness, caring for sick family member, and childbirth
Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA)
  • Employers must provide a place of employment “free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees”

Employers must:

  • Provide a hazard communication program for employees
  • Provide necessary protective equipment
  • Display posters from the federal or state department of labor informing employees of their protections and rights
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • All non-exempt employees must be paid the minimum wage and must be paid overtime (time and a half) for any hours worked over 40 per week  
  • Most employees are non-exempt. Exempt employees include those who receive a salary and hold an executive role
  • Restaurants/fast food businesses with annual gross sales from one or more establishments that total at least $500,000 are subject to FLSA
  • Any person who works on or otherwise handles goods that are moving in interstate commerce is individually subject to minimum wage and overtime protection—so any server or cashier who handles a credit card transaction is technically subject to the Act
  • Tips may be considered a part of wages, but an employer must pay not less than $2.13 an hour in base wages ($2.83 in the state of Pennsylvania)—AND must ensure that the amount of tips received is enough to meet the remainder of Federal minimum wage
  • Tipped employees who work overtime are to be paid one and one half times the minimum wage, NOT one and a half times $2.13

Check out these sources for additional info:

Philadelphia COVID-19 Law [source] [source] [source] [source] [source]

PA COVID-19 Law [source] [source]

Federal COVID-19 Law [source] [source]

Philadelphia Everyday Law [source]

PA Everyday Law [source] [source] [source]

Federal Everyday Law [source] [source] [source] [source] [source] [source] [source]

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