Sick pay in San Francisco

First the caveat: The nonprofit research group that studied the effect of sick pay legislation in San Francisco also wants to promote it here. But their report about how it worked out in California is interesting. The main point: The business community squawked like crazy in opposition and later acknowledged that it was no big deal.

In San Francisco, according to a report by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy in New York, employees begin to earn paid sick leave after 90 days of work. (Philly's proposed ordinance would allow workers to earn sick leave upon hiring.) begin after 56 hours of work). After 90 days, San Francisco workers can accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours they work, up to 72 hours in large companies and 40 hours in smaller companies. That would be the same in Philadelphia. Both bills allow sick time to be used for the care of family members.

In San Francisco, 116,000 workers gained sick days at a cost of about $5.56 per week per worker, according to a study by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. But it would save businesses $7.64 per worker per week in improving productivity, decreasing turnover and reducing the spread of disease. The Urban Institute interviewed employers and found that mostly they were able to implement the policy with minimal to moderate effects on their overall business and bottom line, the Drum Major Institute reported.  The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which had been an opponent, told Business Week in June that the law had been "successful" and acknowledged that employees did not abuse it, as feared. 

The Drum Major group found a key difference between San Francisco and Philadelphia. San Francisco's economy is more reliant on hospitality and construction, both sectors that tend to have more workers without sick pay. (Think waitresses, hotel chambermaids, carpenters). While there are 36,300 restaurant and hotel industry workers without sick pay in Philadelphia, the city's economy is more reliant on education and health, meaning that more people are employed in large organizations such as hospitals and universities, which tend to offer healthcare. The exception in that sector are, according to Drum Major, 38,600 health care and social assistance employees, including people who work with children and the elderly.      

On Tuesday, advocates for sick pay in Philadelphia gathered in City Hall to hear Drum Major's research director Amy Traub present her findings on sick pay in San Francisco and Philadelphia. You can read my article in the Philadelphia Inquirer by clicking here.