Philly Working Families, Business Owners Applaud Passage of Earned Sick Days Law
Philly Becomes 17th City with Paid Sick Days as Federal Legislation Reintroduced in Congress
Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia working families, business owners, advocates and experts applauded the City Council for passing a paid sick days bill to ensure Philadelphia workers can succeed as caregivers and providers. Philadelphia becomes the 17th city in the country to enact paid sick days on the same day that federal legislation is being reintroduced in Washington. Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to sign the Philadelphia bill into law right after passage.
“City Council made a decision today that no working Philadelphians will have to choose between the job they need and the family they love or their own health,” said Marianne Bellesorte, a leader of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces and Vice President of Policy, Strategy, and Communications at PathWays PA. “The earned sick days law will boost public health, working families’ financial stability and our local economy. Now, we need to ensure the law is implemented and enforced.”
This victory comes on the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union call for cities and states to take action on paid sick days and on the same day a national paid sick days bill is being re-introduced in Congress. After a historic year of wins in 2014, including a sweep of ballot measures in the midterms, three states and 17 cities now have passed paid sick days laws, and three states have paid family and medical leave programs. Already in 2015, Philadelphia and Tacoma, Wash., have passed laws; a statewide Maryland bill got a Senate hearing; and Vermont, Maryland, Oregon and New Jersey, among others, are engaged in robust campaigns. For more information on wins on the horizon in 2015, click here.
Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a network of coalitions – including the Philadelphia coalition – in 21 states fighting for policies that value families, said, “Today’s passage of an earned sick days bill in Philadelphia is the culmination of years of work from a broad and diverse coalition that stood strong and persevered to make this a reality. Now, Philadelphia becomes the 17th city to pass paid sick days and part of the swelling national tide to provide working families with much-needed relief. We need to continue fighting to ensure all workers across the country can be good providers and caregivers.”
Specifically, the Philadelphia earned sick days bill will:
• Allow Philadelphia workers in businesses with 10 or more employees to earn up to five paid sick days per year;
• Provide job protection for workers at businesses with nine or fewer employees to take up to five unpaid sick days per year; and
• Allow workers to start using earned sick days after 90 days on the job.
For nearly 200,000 Philadelphians, getting sick or staying home to care for a sick family member means loss of income and the risk of losing a job. Nearly one quarter of adults in the US have been fired or threatened with job loss for taking time off to recover from illness or care for a sick loved one. For a low-income family without paid sick days, going just 3.5 days without wages is the equivalent to losing a month’s groceries.
These laws, when implemented, have also had great success and enjoy broad popularity. Studies of paid sick days laws passed in San Francisco and Seattle have shown no negative impact on local economies, and both cities outpaced neighbors that lacked earned sick time protection. A recent poll of likely voters showed overwhelming support for paid sick days and other workplace laws that allow families to balance the increasing demands of work and family.
The Philadelphia City Council previously passed a paid sick days bill twice, but each was vetoed by Mayor Nutter. In June, the Mayor created a task force to examine paid sick days policies, which made recommendations for a paid sick days law.
For more information on the bill, click here and here.
Restaurant Opportunities Center Philadelphia:
Paid sick leave is a critical step forward in decency and fairness for the city's restaurant workers, the vast majority of whom are forced to work while sick because they can't afford to take a day off. It's also a vast improvement in public health. As long time restaurant worker and ROC member, Jason McCarthy, stated: "There's a sick worker in nearly every restaurant in this city everyday. But there's really no choice for us in the matter." Paid sick leave gives the people who prepare and serve our food a choice and protects diners in the process.
Pennsylvania Working Families:
"Over the past six weeks, PA Working Families has knocked on thousands of doors and generated hundreds of phone calls to Council in support of paid sick leave. We're so pleased that, with today's victories, low-wage workers will no longer have to make the choice between going to work sick and paying their rent. The national conversation on paid sick leave has been evolving, in the eight years that Philadelphia Council has been discussion it, and we're proud to be joining our sisters and brothers in 2 states and 17 cities that have said 'yes' to giving workers this benefit." Kati Sipp, Director, Pennsylvania Working Families.
“I found out in November of last year that I was pregnant. I had several complications which caused me to miss days from work. Each time, I provided proof from my doctor. But, we don’t have sick days and my absences were held against me,” said Cecelia Tarr, a single mother who made $8.50 as a cabin cleaner with Prospect at the Philadelphia International Airport. “When I was eventually terminated, I was told it was due to my absences although I showed documentation. I believe my termination was due to my desire to speak up for myself and for others on the job when I saw wrongdoings. I also believe it was to the company’s policy of not providing sick days which meant that my health-related absences were treated as a basis for discipline. No one should be treated like this. Everyone should be entitled to sick days. I truly believe the passage of this measure is the step in the right direction for workers like myself.”
"With this vote, Philadelphia workers no longer have to choose between a sick child and making rent,” said Estina Baker, State Director for Working America, which has 290,000 members in the metro area. “This is the kind of big change that happens when regular people join together to speak out and demand more for their families.”
Media Mobilizing Project:
“Media Mobilizing Project was proud to partner with the great groups in the coalition for paid sick days, and especially to bring to light the powerful role local businesses like Comcast played in opposing or working to water down the bill,” said Hannah Sassaman, policy director at Media Mobilizing Project. “When workers have the dignity of a paid day off to recover from illness or care for a sick loved one, our city and its economy thrive. We congratulate Councilman Greenlee and all the elected officials who are moving this vital plan forward - and we hope this emboldens them and our city to work for more policies that make our city a just and prosperous place for everyone.”
“Finally, Philadelphia joins with 16 other municipalities to support hard working people by passing Earned Paid Sick Days,” said ACTION United leader Marvin Robinson. “This makes Philadelphia a better city to work and raise a family.”
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