Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Should Philadelphia businesses be required to offer sick pay?

A City Council Committee passed a bill requiring companies to pay Philadelphia workers when they are sick, but can the proposal survive an expected mayoral veto?

Should Philadelphia businesses be required to offer sick pay?


A bill requiring Philadelphia businesses to pay workers when they are sick passed unanimously out of a City Council committee Tuesday, but it's not clear that the proposal can survive a likely second veto by Mayor Nutter.


The bill, sponsored by Councilman William K. Greenlee, would force businesses with six to 20 employees to provide up to four paid sick days. Larger businesses would have to provide seven. The bill would exempt companies with five or fewer employees.


Child-care worker Karen Barnes said she was still trying to recover financially from a bout of impetigo contracted at work last November. She was rushed to the hospital and missed two weeks of work and pay. Barnes showed Council a picture of herself with her left eye swollen shut from the contagious skin infection.


"We're not asking for a tremendous amount of days," she said before the hearing. "We're asking for a reasonable amount."


But Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, submitted testimony to Council's Public Health Committee that the proposal would increase labor costs.


Other business owners testified that they pay workers when they are sick because they believe the benefits - improved employee retention, limiting the spread of illness - outweigh short-term costs.


Nutter vetoed a similar bill in 2011, saying he did not believe Philadelphia should pass a paid-sick-leave law when other municipalities in the region do not have one. On Tuesday, city Commerce Director Alan Greenberger reaffirmed that position.


If the bill gets the approval of the full Council, Nutter is expected to veto it again. Greenlee would need 12 or 17 votes to override that veto, and a poll of Council members on Tuesday did not show that kind of support.

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Chris Hepp, Tricia Nadolny, Julia Terruso, and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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