Kevin Cox, the owner of Bar Marco in the Strip District, offered his employees up to two weeks off in paid sick leave long before Pittsburgh City Council required it in 2015. “We need them to show up and be ready to work, and part of that is to take some time for some self-care,” Mr. Cox said.

The city’s law, meanwhile, did not sit well with Tim Maloney, owner of Dirt Doctors Cleaning Service in Brighton Heights. While Mr. Maloney offers some paid sick leave when employees need it, he said, a mandate to offer a set amount of days would cost his business.

“If there was a mandatory thing that I have to give everyone five sick days … that would definitely cut into the bottom line,” he said. “I’d probably have to take away [four] paid holidays.”

That distinction — whether paid sick leave is primarily a local public health issue or municipal government overreach that violates Pennsylvania law — is at the heart of a three-year legal tussle that arrives in Pittsburgh this week.

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