Update: Philadelphia Paid Sick-Leave Bill

We have previously written about the importance of the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill which would give Philadelphia part-time and full-time workers the opportunity to earn sick time proportionate to hours worked and the size of the business. At yesterday’s Council meeting  the bill was amended, reducing the number of paid sick days that businesses would be required to give their employees. The original bill required businesses having eleven or more employees to allow their workers to earn up to 9 days paid sick time and employers having ten or fewer employees to allow their employees to earn up to 5 days paid sick time. Now, the bill would only require that businesses of eleven or more employees allow their workers to earn up to 7 days paid sick time and businesses of ten or fewer employees to allow their employees to earn up to 4 sick days.

Though the number of sick days businesses are required to give their workers was reduced from the original bill, the bill still has the potential to be extremely beneficial.  Several recently published op-eds praise the benefits that paid sick-leave in Philadelphia would bring and debunk the arguments of those who oppose the bill.

A piece by Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State- Abington and Stephen Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center is one such op-ed.  Golden and Herzenberg argue that

paid sick days are good for business and the community, as well as for families. Businesses save because worker turnover declines, lowering hiring costs and eliminating lost productivity as new workers get up to speed.

…The community benefits because, when sick workers stay home, disease doesn’t spread to other workers or to customers. Workers also obtain more timely medical care and recover faster, reducing lost productivity and holding down health-care costs.

Some opponents of the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill, such as the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, argue that requiring employers to give their workers paid sick time would “cause businesses to close, cut jobs or leave the city.” However, Golden and Herzenberg argue that these criticisms are based on “inflated estimates.” As an example they use “a new report by the chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business [which] makes three errors that inflate its maximum cost estimate by more than five times. The study also takes no account of the benefits for businesses and the city.”

Furthermore, Dewetta Logan, owner of Smart Beginnings Early Learning Center in West Philadelphia points out that the “chamber’s opposition…does not represent the feelings of all business owners.” Since Logan’s business provides child care and the children are “the top priority for business” she says that it is nonsensical to have one of her employees spread germs to the children in their care or be distracted due to illness. Logan has seen the beneficial effects of her policy of providing five paid sick days a year to her employees.  Such benefits include a more loyal staff and “a happier, healthier workplace, which of course also happens to be the playground, lunchroom, and napping place of a few dozen children.”

Through her business Logan has not only seen the benefits of paid sick days but also the detrimental effects that not having paid sick days can have on individuals and their families.

I see parents dropping off sick children and heading off to their own jobs when they’re sick. It’s heartbreaking when we have to care for a child who should be at home with a parent. But raising a family is expensive, and many parents can’t afford to take a day off without pay, even when they or their kids need to.

The Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill, if passed, would be beneficial for individuals, their families, and the entire city of Philadelphia.  The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces has a list of ways to get involved here.

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