Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Business and Family Friendly Earned Sick Days Bill Advances

Philadelphia, PA - When a loved one becomes ill, are you forced to choose between caring for them or losing a paycheck, or even your job? People without paid sick days at their jobs often face these impossible choices -- between the work they need and the families they love. Today, Philadelphia's City Council took a step towards giving Philadelphia workers a new choice: the opportunity to earn sick days.

A bill in City Council, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474), passed out of committee today and now moves on for a vote by the full Council. This bill would give Philadelphia workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year to use to care for themselves or their family members. Workers would earn one hour of sick time for every thirty hours they work. Employees of small businesses (10 workers or less) would earn up to five days of sick time per year.

"The health and livelihoods of all Philadelphians are compromised when working people are forced to go to their jobs when they're sick," said Marianne Bellesorte, Senior Director of Policy at PathWays PA. "City Council took an important step today towards passing a bill that helps workers and businesses in Philadelphia."

Studies in other cities show that both businesses and employees benefit from earned sick days policies. Businesses save money from higher productivity and lower turnover, and workers use paid sick leave responsibly and often do not use all of the time offered to them. A study last month of San Francisco's paid sick days law shows many business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law.

"When I'm sick at work, I am not at my best and risk spreading illness to my coworkers and the people I protect," said Vendetta Livingston, a grandmother and U.S. Security Associates security officer who protects a downtown law firm. "But I can't afford to lose a day's pay when I'm already struggling to pay the bills and can't even provide for my own grandchildren."

Before the Public Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill, City Council members voted on a number of amendments related to the bill, including changing the amount of time employees must work before using sick days from 30 days to 90 days. The amendments also clarify that businesses offering paid time off equal to or more generous than the minimum standard set in the bill will not need to change their policies to specifically offer sick days.

"Earned sick days are good for business and good for working families and good for the overall health of our community," said Rebecca Foley, Director of Education and Advocacy Initiatives at WOMEN'S WAY. "With amendments that address concerns of the business community, the Council now has a stronger bill to bring to a vote."

After passage in the Committee on Public Health and Human Services, the bill now moves on to consideration by the full Council.

The Coalition for Healthy Families and Businesses looks forward to its final passage and the opportunity for workers to earn the sick time they need to care for their families.

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