Mandatory paid sick leave was signed into law this week, in Pennsylvania, by Mayor Nutter.
“Those that did not have paid sick leave are most in need of it,” said Councilman William K. Greenlee, a sponsor of the bill. “They’re low-income workers, single mothers; they’re college students or people just starting out in the work world.
Within 90 days, businesses that employee more than 10 people will be required to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they have worked. The bill will benefit an estimated 200,000 Philadelphians, according to Greenlee.
The measure dates back seven years. It was initially proposed in 2008 with Philadelphia being one of the first cities to consider such a law. Currently 16 cities and three states have similar laws and the President is calling on Congress to get federal sick-leave legislation passed.
Only two members opposed the passing of the new law.
Some industries, the hospitality industry for example, lobbied against the bill claiming it would dissuade companies from moving to Philadelphia or keep current ones from expanding.
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce requested the employee threshold be set at 50, but then lowered it to 15.
“It’s never been about paid sick leave for our members,” said Joe Grace, the chamber’s director of public policy. “It’s always been about competitiveness.”
Workers will be afforded the opportunity to use accrued sick time for their own illnesses family members and/or to seek support to deal with serious situations such as sexual assault and domestic violence. Those not covered under the measure include seasonal workers, independent contractors, interns and more.
Employers in violation will be subject to penalties, fines and restitution. While businesses that currently provide sick pay on par with or exceeding legal requirement don’t have to change their policies.