Paid Sick Leave Back On The Agenda

Philadelphia Councilman Bill Greenlee.

The paid sick leave bill is being introduced in Council again this morning with eight sponsors. That means Councilman William K. Greenlee, the prime sponsor, needs the support of just one more colleague to pass the contentious bill, and four more to reach a veto-proof margin.

Essentially the same bill passed in 2011 by a 9-8 margin, but Mayor Nutter promptly vetoed it. An election since has brought six new members on Council, shuffling the count.

At a news conference this morning before the first Council meeting of the year, Greenlee said he was confident he could pass the measure, which would require businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees, with a veto-proof margin.

“I know it’s not going to be easy,” he said.

Businesses, particularly many small businesses and restaurants, have fought the measure as a costly “unfunded mandate” from the city. Joe Grace, from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, said this morning that he has discussed with Greenlee the possibility of making the law voluntary and providing tax incentives to businesses that give paid sick leave.

“Everyone agrees there’s a cost to this,” he said. “The question is who should bear that cost.”

Greenlee said he was hesitant to adopt that strategy because it would rob the city treasury and be unfair to businesses that provide sick leave now “because it’s the right thing to do.”

“And now you start giving incentives to businesses that are only doing because they are incentivized?” he asked.

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