Councilman Bill Greenlee Now Says Paid Sick Days Bill to be Introduced in January
Pathways PA organized a roundtable discussion between Councilman Bill Greenlee and several small business owners this morning in the City Hall caucus room to discuss the upcoming mandatory paid sick-days bill and what it may mean for small businesses.
Greenlee, who called earned sick leave “a modest policy that will bring big benefits to our city,” was joined by others who seemed to think so. Lori Davis of Porter’s Child Care; Janet Filante of Child Space CDI; Ed Herance of Giovanni’s Room; Warren Borish and Lauren Frankel of Spear Wilderman; and Jeffrey Ziga of Little Baby’s Ice Cream. All business owners on hand noted they have some form of earned sick pay at their businesses and, more importantly, it has not hurt their bottom line.
Greenlee introduced a paid sick-leave bill last year that passed Council but was vetoed by Mayor Nutter. He noted the bill is becoming less fringe legislation as other cities that have passed a form of paid sick leave, without Stalin’s ghost taking over as mayor. San Francisco, Seattle and the state of Connecticut have all passed mandatory sick-leave legislation.
The Philadelphia legislation would force businesses with six to 10 employees to allow workers to earn four days; businesses with 11-plus employees would be required to allow employees to earn seven. And he again made the joke that if any councilmembers in the room wanted to put their name on his legislation, he had the paper in his jacket pocket. The bill will be co-sponsored by Councilman Wilson Goode.
Greenlee told us after the event that it’s time to “put up or shut up,” and that he will finally unveil his new bill in January, after Council returns from vacation. He’d originally told us he hoped the bill would be introduced before the New Year.
Taking a sharp, yet matter-of-fact tone, he called sick leave a “no brainer,” going so far as to compare it to past government business regulations, like the 40-hour work week or child labor laws.
Davis, of Porter’s Child Care, said she’s provided earned paid sick leave at her business for the past 32 years. “Our staff appreciates us more,” she told us of offering the benefit, “and [earned sick time] turns into less turnover. When your employers appreciate who they work for, they’re more likely to turn it into a career instead of a job.”
She says 65-70 percent of her employees have been with Porter’s for five years or more. She also noted the “earned” aspect of sick time works well for her: Each employee, she said, earns three hours for each 40-hour workweek. Which means an employee would have to work for three weeks straight, full-time, before getting a sick day.
Greenlee noted it’s perhaps “most ironic” that the food industry, which could potentially see employees handling food while sick (and, therefore, lose customers) would be against the bill.
The Restaurant Opportunity Center released a report last month, which interviewed more than 500 Philadelphia restaurant employees. It found more than 65 percent of them had worked while sick—and of them, more than 70 percent could not afford to take the day off.
But not everyone’s in.
“Any time you require a government mandate on the private sector, it dampens the ability to grow jobs,” Patrick Conway, CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, told PW last month, “and in many cases it actually reduces employment opportunities.”
Among the other points Conway made, he noted that Philadelphia has many more regulations and taxes than other places in Pennsylvania—even places close by. “That’s why the [Greater Philadelphia] Chamber of Commerce is against it,” he said.