Are There PTO Laws in Pennsylvania? For Some, No

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The state of Pennsylvania does not require employers to offer PTO, sick time, vacation, bereavement, or other forms of leave.

However, multiple cities in Pennsylvania do have their own sick leave laws. Pittsburgh and Philedelpiha each have their own sick leave requirements. So does Allegheny County.

Even though the state doesn’t require PTO, many companies will need to pay close attention to their city regulations for sick leave.

Pittsburgh PTO Requirements

Pittsburg doesn’t have any PTO laws, but it does have a paid sick leave law. Every business within the city boundaries needs to follow it. That said, if you have a PTO policy that’s equal or better than these requirements, that covers you. You’re not required to have an additional sick time policy on top of that. Unless you wanted to have one.

The requirements change based on how many employees you have.

Companies with 15 or more employees:

  • Must offer paid sick leave hours that accrue at a rate of 1 hour per 35 hours worked.
  • Must accrue up to a maximum of 40 hours annually.

Companies with less than 15 employees:

  • Must offer unpaid sick leave hours that accrue at a rate of 1 hour per 35 hours worked the first year. Then paid sick leave the second year.
  • Must accrue to a maximum of 24 hours annually.

Employees must be able to start using their sick time on their 90th day of employment.

Unused paid sick time must also carry over each year. Unless you’ve decided to “front load” the sick time at the beginning of the year. In that case, it doesn’t need to carry over unless you want it to.

You can require “reasonable documentation” for sick leave requests that last for 3 or more consecutive days.As for sick leave payouts when the employee leaves the company, you’re not required to pay anything:

But I highly recommend that you pay out any unused PTO or sick leave, this is standard practice in the HR industry and some states require it. I always have.

Philadelphia PTO Requirements

There’s no PTO laws in Philadelphia but their paid sick leave law provides employees with one hour of earned sick time for every 40 hours worked if the employer has 10 or more employees. Employees can accrue up to 40 hours per year.

There’s no PTO laws in Philadelphia but there is a 

For businesses with fewer than 10 employees, you only have to offer unpaid sick time at the same accrual rate. However, there’s no paid sick time requirement, regardless of how many years that the employee works for you.

You’re required to carry over at least 40 hours of unused sick time to the next year. Unless you front load 40 hours at the beginning of the year, then there isn’t a carry over requirement.

And there’s no sick leave payout requirement when employees leave the company. 

Allegheny County PTO Requirements

Again, no PTO law but there is a sick leave law in Allegheny County.

Businesses with 26 or more employees within Allegheny County must provide one hour of paid sick time per 35 hours worked. Employees can earn up to 40 hours annually and can begin using their accrued sick time after waiting 90 days from the date of their employment. 

If you have less than 26 employees, you don’t have to provide any sick time, paid or unpaid.

You also need to allow employees to roll over their hours from one year to the next if they use an accrual system. If you front load hours at the beginning of the year, you do not need to allow a rollover. 

The sick leave maximum must be 40 hours accrued at any time, but you can always offer more if you want. 

Allegheny County specifies that employers not only pay their employees the same rate of pay for earned sick time but also continue to provide benefits that employees would have accrued if they were working during that time, like healthcare.

Employers do not have to pay out unused sick time upon an employee’s separation, but employees rehired within six months of the separation can have their unused time reinstated. A two-year record of earned sick time for each employee is required.

Which Regulations to Follow When You’re Subject to More than One

The simple trick is to follow the most stringent regulation. For example, every company in Pittsburgh also has to follow the Allegheny County sick leave laws. When they conflict, follow the one that requires the most.

This is a good guideline when dealing with PTO laws across the US. Whenever I have employees in multiple locations, I find the strictest set of laws and then make sure my policy matches that standard for my entire company.

Now, you don’t have to do this. Most of the city and state PTO laws only require companies to provide leave when an employee is performing work hours within their jurisdiction. But do you really want to keep track of which employee is working within the city or state limits at all times? I sure don’t.

I recommend you create a policy that follows the strictest PTO and sick leave laws that any of your employees could be subject to. Then provide that policy to every employee in your company.

I break down my recommended PTO policy here, which is more than good enough to cover all the sick leave requirements in Pennsylvania.

Are The Pennsylvania PTO Laws Good Enough?

I don’t think so.

I find it appalling that Pennsylvania doesn’t have a state-wide sick-time law. Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have done a great job at offering sick time that’s ahead of national standards. But the state is WAY behind.

For Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, I do think the sick leave accrual rate is a solid accrual rate. A lot of states require sick time of 1 hour per 40 hours worked.

The first and essential step that Pennsylvania should take is to adopt the sick leave law of Pittsburgh or Philadelphia (doesn’t matter which, they’re pretty similar) and enforce it state-wide. It’s ridiculous that this isn’t in place yet.

To really tighten things up, I’d add a few extra protections:

  • All unused PTO and sick leave should be paid out when employees leave. I consider that earned wages and employees should get paid if they don’t use it.
  • Pennsylvania’s reporting requirements are pretty lax. The business only needs to maintain records, they aren’t responsible to notify the employees of their ongoing PTO balance. PTO and sick leave amounts should be required to be on every pay stub. With the right payroll software, this is 100% automated and takes zero effort.
  • PTO use-it-or-lose policies should be banned. I really like what Colorado does with their PTO laws. Basically, PTO can’t be taken away for any reason. It either gets used or gets paid. This does a lot to protect employees and prevent a company from changing their policy and wiping out someone’s PTO.
  • Pennsylvania should expand sick leave to PTO. Nevada has already done this and I’m in full support. Once someone earns leave, they should be able to take it for any reason. It’s their time. Plus, the boundaries for sick time and personal time can get pretty blurry. Let’s do what’;s right for employees and help them take the time off.

So Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are off to a good start, but the state of Pennsylvania is way behind the times.

Trustworthy Resources for Pennsylvania PTO Laws

Before making any decisions for your PTO policies, I’d check these resources and verify that the information you have is correct:

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