Kathy Speaker MacNett, Esq.
February 9, 2022
As we enter the New Year, we wanted to take a few minutes to remind our readers of some Human Resources basics and updates.
OSHA Temporary Emergency Standard
This temporary emergency standard regarding vaccination or testing requirements for employers with over 100 employees has been withdrawn by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) effective January 25, 2022, but employers should stay tuned for future OSHA developments because OSHA has not withdrawn its rule regarding same. See https://www.osha.gov/coronavirus/ets2.
Federal COVID Sick Leave / COVID FMLA Leave / Workplace Safety
Mandatory programs have expired, but employers may voluntarily adopt programs aimed at COVID relief, and should continue programs to assure workplace safety during the COVID pandemic.
Federal Contractors and Vaccines
The Court in Georgia issued a nation-wide injunction stating that the vaccine mandate for federal contractors contained in Executive Order 14042 was unconstitutional. The court did not address any of the other safety measures mentioned in the same Executive Order (masking or physical distancing). For the text of the decision. See: https://www.hrwlawyers.com/assets/State-of-GA-v.-Joe-Biden-Order-1.21.22.pdf. Stay tuned for further developments.
Mandatory Sick Leave
City of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh has adopted an ordinance requiring payment of sick leave and mandatory carry-over of sick time from year to year for employees who work in the City. There are some exceptions, but coverage is generally broad. For more info see: https://pittsburghpa.gov/mayor/paidsickleave; https://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/redtail/images/8549_Ordinance.pdf.
The City of Pittsburgh also has a COVID sick leave policy in effect through July of 2022. https://pittsburgh.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5036037&GUID=F215435F-126F-45BC-805D-1204CDACD9A6&Options=Advanced&Search=&FullText=1
Allegheny County - The County has recently adopted an ordinance requiring payment of sick leave based on one hour of sick leave for every 35 hours worked. The ordinance
applies to private-sector employers with 26 or more employees, even if the employees do not generally work in Allegheny County. This leave carries over from one year to the next. Employers may front end the leave at the beginning of the year, and may use existing leave to fulfill this new mandatory sick leave requirement. There are record keeping and retaliation provisions. https://www.alleghenycounty.us/administrative/paid-sick-leave-faqs.aspx.
The interplay between the two ordinances has not yet been addressed by the courts.
Maximum Pennsylvania Benefits
Workers’ Compensation for workplace injuries after January 1, 2022 - The new Pennsylvania maximum weekly benefit amount will be $1,205.
Unemployment Compensation for job loss or reduction - The Pennsylvania maximum weekly benefit amount is $572, plus the possibility of an additional $8 weekly for dependents. No weekly federal payment enhancements are in effect as of this writing.
Minimum Wage Law
The federal and Pennsylvania minimum wage remain at $7.25 per hour for most private sector employees. Federal and state contractors are required to pay a $15 per hour minimum wage rate.
The federal and Pennsylvania threshold for employees to be exempt from overtime remains at $684 per week. The increase in the Pennsylvania threshold to a level higher than the federal was eliminated in the Pennsylvania budget process last summer.
Employers with facilities in other states should be sure to check minimum wage requirements in those states because the employer must comply with the wage rate (federal or state) more favorable to the employee.
The U.S. Department of Labor has stated that employers must treat mandatory COVID testing time during the regular work day as time worked. See Q&A 7. https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/pandemic. Additionally, extra pay during COVID must be included within the regular rate of pay for hourly employees. See website above, Q&A 23-25 inclusive.
Failure to maintain appropriate wage and hour records is a separate record keeping violation under this law. Remote work may make this requirement particularly difficult.
All Pennsylvania employers are required to have posters on applicable employment laws conspicuously available in the workplace for employees. If an employer is working remotely, you may wish to consider an intranet or other computer site for posting for remote workers. Note that some federal fines for lack of posters have recently increased.
This communication contains only general information and does not take the place of specific legal advice applied to specific factual settings. Nothing in this communication should be construed to create an attorney-client privilege.
Kathy is a Managing Member of the Harrisburg, PA law firm of SkarlatosZonarich LLC. She has been practicing management-side labor/employment law for decades. If you have any questions, please contact Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org