City Council to vote for small business employees to earn sick days

City Council will vote on a bill as early as next week that would force local businesses with more than six full-time employees to offer paid sick days.
City Council will vote on a bill as early as next week that would force local businesses with more than six full-time employees to offer paid sick days.

Rosemary Devine waits tables in town and what she sees makes her queasy: sick restaurant workers pulling themselves into work because they can’t afford to stay home and miss a day’s pay.

“We’re touching plates, we’re touching silverware,” Devine said. “Germs spread very quickly. People in the kitchen, making your food, don’t take paid sick days.”

City Council will vote on a bill as early as next week that would force local businesses with more than six full-time employees to offer paid sick days.

A similar bill was approved, but then vetoed, by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2011. Councilman Bill Greenlee, who resurrected the bill, made 23 changes to the original. In a hearing Tuesday, officials testified for and against the amended plan.

Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger said the bill would damage the city’s economy. He said it would hurt the city’s ability to compete in the global marketplace, and be a deterrent for businesses looking at Philly.

“It’s the goal of this administration to make it easier to do business in the city,” Greenberger said. “This proposal adds one more cost to businesses already dealing with a difficult economy.”

Greenlee was openly upset that Donal Schwarz, city health commissioner, did not attend the hearing. He called the snub, “totally disrespectful.”

“A big part of this is the health of Philadelphians, of low-income workers,” he said. “And to steal a line from Jack Nicholson, ‘You can’t handle the truth!”"

Twelve of the 17 council members’ approval is required to beat a second veto.

Requirements

  • Small business workers would receive one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
  • Businesses with fewer than six employees would not apply.
  • Businesses that employ between six and 20 employees would be required to give upward of four paid sick days per year.
  • Businesses with more than 20 employees would be required to offer up to seven paid sick days.

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