Twice vetoed by Mayor Michael Nutter, and under serious fire from conservatives in the state legislature, Philadelphia’s paid sick leave law takes effect on Wednesday.
For the vast majority of full time workers in Philadelphia, that change in the law means little because their employers already allow for paid sick leave.
But for an estimated 200,000 workers in the city, the law could add needed protections when they or their close relatives are sick.
“There’s a real need for this kind of law to help people get through tough times,” says Center City employment lawyer Kevin Lovitz. “People should have to choose between their families and their jobs.”
In effect, the policy gives employees who work for businesses with 10 or more employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours of work. So, full time workers would essentially get one day off for every two month of work.
The law also applies to part-time employees.
Five city council people will be at area transit stops at 8 a.m. Wednesday to talk to workers and spread the word about the new law.
The measure passed in February with Mayor Nutter’s approval after revisions were made. But the law faces challenges in Harrisburg, where Republicans have vowed to overrule the measure. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has vowed to veto a bill that spikes Philly’s sick leave ordinance.
Opponents of sick leave ordinances say they will dampen the profitability of businesses, force business owners to pay less or reduce raises, and allow the most irresponsible employees to call out while hung over.
Studies in other cities however, suggest those effects are real, but limited.
In San Francisco, the first U.S. city to mandate sick leave in 2009, about 14 percent of businesses reported negative impacts on profits, and 12 percent reported decreased pay, raises or changes in other kinds of benefits.
In that city, workers can accrue between five and nine sick days, but the study found that the typical worker used just three, while one-quarter used no sick days.
Results in Seattle were similar, with about 6.4 percent of employers reported reduced pay or raises, and 8.2 percent reporting price increases for consumers. In that survey, businesses said sick days were used much less than expected.