Push Back on Local Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave

Push Back on Local Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave

Over the past several years, many municipalities have taken labor and employment matters into their own hands, passing local laws requiring a higher minimum wage or paid sick leave beyond that required by the state or federal government.  Florida and Pennsylvania are pushing back on these local laws.

On February 12, 2015, Philadelphia instituted an ordinance requiring employers with 10 or more employees to provide 40 hours of paid sick leave in a calendar year.  Less than a year after its implementation, on December 30, 2016, two senators of the Pennsylvania state legislature issued a memorandum announcing their intent to propose a bill that would override municipal laws of this kind.  The senators cited concerns of uniformity and the burden on local businesses as their motivation.  On January 25, 2017, SB 128 was introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature.  This bill would preclude municipalities from:

  • Enacting laws requiring vacation leave or other forms of paid or unpaid leave not required by state or federal law, or
  • Requiring employers to compensate employees for vacation or other forms of leave not required to be compensated by state or federal law.

In its currently drafted form, the bill would not invalidate municipal mandates governing leave that were enacted prior to January 1, 2015, narrowly including Philadelphia’s paid sick leave ordinance.  The bill’s success would mean an end to hodgepodge leave ordinances and require a uniform application of state and federal leave law throughout Pennsylvania.

The state of Florida is similarly pushing back against a local ordinance raising the minimum wage.  As of January 1, 2017, the state’s minimum wage is $8.10 an hour.  A Miami Beach city-wide ordinance sets the minimum wage at $10.31 an hour for 2017, with a one dollar increase each year until 2021.  However, unlike the situation in Pennsylvania, Florida already has a law prohibiting local governments from setting their own minimum wage.  Thus, a group of business entities, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce, filed a lawsuit challenging the local minimum wage.  On December 17, 2016, Florida’s Attorney General filed a motion to intervene in the suit to defend the constitutionality of the Florida statute.  The judge granted this request on January 23, 2017.

It’s too early to tell how this case will be resolved.  However, this challenge under existing Florida law, and the proposed legislation in Pennsylvania, may send a message to other states to take similar steps to override municipal laws to help ensure state-wide uniformity in employment wage and benefit laws.

Contributor: Michelle L. Covington, Attorney at Law | Weintraub Tobin