Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Press Release: Philadelphians Call for Paid Sick Days at City Council Hearing

Citing New Research Showing Sick Days Would Save Employers and Healthcare Providers Millions of Dollars,

Economists, Business Owners, Community Leaders, Labor Unions and Women’s Rights Advocates Urge Council Members to Stand Up for Families at Public Hearing

PHILADELPHIA—In a hearing at City Council today, small business owners, workers, doctors, and economists from Philadelphia called on Council Members to pass the Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill and side with Philadelphia families, rather than corporate lobbyists like the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, who are spreading misinformation about the legislation. The bill, which has eight co-sponsors, would ensure that nearly 200,000 Philadelphians who do not have access to paid sick time are able to take time off when they or their families are ill.

“I’ve worked as a waitress several times over the years. I know everyone who waitresses works while they’re sick because they don’t have sick time and they need the money.” said Rosemary from Philadelphia. “You have to put food on the table, you have to keep the lights on. There’s no discount pump at the gas station for people who’ve had the flu.”

Councilman Bill Greenlee introduced the 2013 Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill, which has eight Co-Sponsors, including Council President Darrell Clarke, Councilman Curtis Jones, Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Councilwoman Cindy Bass, Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Councilman W. Wilson Goode, Jr., and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. The bill, supported by the Philadelphia’s Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, would enable workers to earn one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked, while protecting the flexibility that small business owners need to thrive.

“No one should be forced to work sick or abandon a loved one in need of care for fear of losing their job,” said Councilman Greenlee. “We heard today from people who were fired, or people who worked sick and put off critical medical treatment because they didn’t have sick time. That’s not good for anybody and we must do better.”

Recent data from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research shows sick days will save Philadelphia businesses more than half a million dollars per year by reducing turnover and increasing productivity, and it will save the city an estimated $10.3 million a year in healthcare costs by reducing preventable emergency room visits. Numerous other studies show the positive impact that earned sick days has on businesses and the economy, and cities and states have been adopting earned sick days policies to help improve public health and bolster the economic recovery over recent years.

Economists say job retention policies like earned sick days help reduce unemployment and strengthen economic recovery. San Francisco, which has had an earned sick days law for six years, was rated by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2011 as one of the top cities in the world to do business, and more than two in three San Francisco businesses support the local law with six in seven reporting no negative impact on profitability.

“Our employees stay at Childspace for years. I attribute that in part to our sick time policy,” said Teresa Mansell, President of Childspace Management Group which operates three centers with over 50 employees. “Low turnover among employees saves money and builds loyalty among staff and our customers. That means I can trust my employees to run the business smoothly when I need a sick day.”

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 7 million Americans were infected by co-workers who went to work sick during the 2009 H1N1 outbreak. CDC also estimates the average annual cost to employers of the flu at $10.4 billion, with the cost of this year’s epidemic expected to be much higher. It is for this reason that business owners support earned sick time legislation.

“When workers have paid sick days, they are able to take time off for preventive care and chronic disease management, reducing burdens on our hospitals and emergency departments, and contributing to a healthier workforce,” said Dr. James Plumb, a Philadelphia doctor and Director of the Center for Urban Health at Thomas Jefferson University. “I have patients who forego on-going care because they face loss of wages or job loss. Nobody should have to make these choices.”

“It’s time for the City Council to stand up for Philadelphia’s families by passing earned paid sick days,” said Marianne Bellesorte, Senior Director of Public Policy and Media Relations at PathWays PA. “Paid sick time is about more than keeping people healthy, it’s about keeping hardworking people in their jobs, and providing families with much-needed relief.”

Across the country, cities and states have been adopting paid sick days policies to help improve public health and bolster the economic recovery. In 2011, Connecticut passed the first statewide paid sick days law, followed soon after by a law in Seattle. San Francisco and Washington, DC have had successful policies for years. City Councils and State Legislatures in PortlandMassachusettsNew York City and others are building support for earned sick time policies.

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