Council passes mandatory paid sick leave bill

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Marvin Robinson, of West Philadelphia, holds up a sign during a City Council public hearing on the paid sick leave bill in Philadelphia Pa. on February 3, 2015. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

Before a crowd of cheering workers, City Council on Thursday voted to bring mandatory sick leave to Philadelphia.

“One thing we’ve heard many times is, even from those who had doubts in the beginning, earned paid sick leave is the right thing to do. Mr. President let’s finally do it, “ William K. Greenlee, who introduced the bill, said as it came up for a vote.

Mayor Nutter, who vetoed paid sick leave legislation introduced by Greenlee in 2011 and 2013, intends to sign the bill into law Thursday afternoon, according to his spokesman. It will take effect in 90 days. 

The bill applies to businesses with 10 or more employees. Employees will accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, approximately five days a year. Greenlee says the bill would help many of the 200,000 Philadelphians, or about 40 percent of the city's workforce, who do not get paid sick leave, according to federal labor statistics.

When Greenlee started the push for paid sick leave in 2008, Philadelphia was one of the first cities to consider such a measure. Now, 16 cities and three states have similar laws, and President Obama is calling on Congress to pass federal legislation requiring paid sick time.

Councilman David Oh and Councilman Brian J. O’Neill, both Republicans, were the only members to vote against the legislation.

As the final vote was cast, dozens of advocates who filled the Council chamber broke into a chant, waving signs and repeating: “This is what democracy looks like.”

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