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Building Innovation is a collection of stories by 90.5 fm WESA reporters about the Pittsburgh region focusing on efficient government operation, infrastructure and transportation, innovative practices, energy and environment and neighborhoods and community.

90-Day Countdown For Pittsburgh's Paid Sick Days Begins

Anna Gutermuth

A new law allowing employees of Pittsburgh businesses the right to earn paid sick time goes into effect Jan. 11.

Under the ordinance signed by Mayor Bill Peduto on Aug. 3, workers will get one hour for every 35 hours worked; up to three unpaid days in the first year for business 14 years or less; and up to five paid days for businesses 15 years or older.

“This legislation was really about a simple common-sense fix to make sure people don’t go to work sick,” said Alex Wallack Hanson, an organizer with Pittsburgh United.

Members of the 25-plus organizations in the Pittsburgh Paid Sick Day Coalition, city business employees and service industry workers rallied and handed out flyers in Market Square on Monday.

“As it stands, if you want to call off because you’re sick, you have to have a doctor’s note or else you get suspended and you can’t work for a week” said Morgan Midgett, a server at the Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville. “But you also, at the same time, can’t afford to take that day off to even pay for the doctor.”

Midgett said she wonders if some business owners even plan to inform their employees about the new legislation.

“I don’t know that they would let us know how it works," she said. "They may tell us you can call off and not get suspended for it, but I don’t know that they would let us know that we would be getting compensated even just a little bit.”

Hanson and other coalition members said they want to make people are aware of the coming changes.

“We’re going to keep talking to people on the street, go in to talk to people in their workplaces ... use social media with the Mayor’s Office (and) work with the administration to make sure everyone knows about the new legislation,” he said.