Commonwealth, AFSCME enter side agreement for emergency paid sick leave

In an effort to support Commonwealth of Pennsylvania employees who are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, AFSCME Council 13 has entered a side agreement with the Commonwealth to provide 10 days of emergency sick leave if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or is required to quarantine due to exposure.

This side agreement comes as the federal government has failed to extend The Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 (FFCRA), which provides emergency paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) and expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (EFMLEA) for certain employees impacted by COVID-19.

The agreement will be in effect for the remainder of 2021 as long as 1. the federal government continues to fail to extend or amend EPSLA to provide additional leave entitlements and 2. Governor Wolf’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency remains in effect.

This agreement covers employees working in agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction and in the independent agencies. AFSCME Council 13 continues to negotiate with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in hopes of reaching a similar deal.

Further details about the agreement can be found below:

Employees in agencies under the Governor’s jurisdiction

Employees in independent agencies

Employees in Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB)

Employees in Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA)

The recently passed COVID relief package does not require employers to provide this leave, but AFSCME and the Commonwealth recognize the need for such a policy to ensure employees can stay home when sick without worrying about losing pay. The alternative could mean employees run out of paid leave just by trying to do the right thing of staying home when sick. If employees feel the need to go to work in order to get paid, even when sick, it would risk the health of their coworkers. This is a crucial step in protecting the health and financial security of the front-line workers who make Pennsylvania happen.