Today, Philadelphia City Council is holding a hearing on the merits of proposed bill mandating earned paid-sick leave for certain employees.
This is the third hearing on the issue since 2011. Mayor Nutter has vetoed earned paid sick-day legislation twice, then convened a task force to study the issue. In December, the task force endorsed the measure.
The current bill would require companies with 10 or more employees to provide earned paid sick time, and mandate businesses with fewer than 10 employees provide unpaid sick time.
Women’s Law Project staff attorney Amal Bass is testifying today in front of City Council. WLP strongly endorses the bill for the sake of the economic and physical health of working Philadelphians, with some additional recommendations.
From our testimony:
At the WLP, a large portion of our work involves efforts to improve the health, safety, and economic security of women. We have seen how the absence of paid leave exacerbates the work-family imbalance that women bear disproportionately as the primary caregivers of their families.
A paid leave ordinance like the one we are discussing today would alleviate many of the burdens on these caregivers. It would protect the health of women and their families, address public health concerns, and promote efficiency and stability for the city’s businesses.
Women are disproportionately the primary caregivers in modern families and increasingly, the primary breadwinners, too. In a recent survey, 47 percent of women who stayed home to care for a sick child reported losing pay, a particularly difficult burden in tough economic times. Some workers lose their jobs.
National Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that low-income workers, who are disproportionately women and minorities, have less access to paid sick leave than other workers. While endorsing the bill, Women’s Law Project recommends Philadelphia lower the threshold so the paid leave mandate applies to companies with 5 or more employees. According to an analysis cited by the task force report, only 28.7% of Philadelphia businesses have 10 or more employees. By lowering the threshold from 10 to 5 employees, the bill would extend the mandate to another 18.5% of Philadelphia companies. Even at that threshold, the legislation would not apply to more than half of Philadelphia employers, since 52.8% of local businesses have between 1 to 4 employees.
WLP also urges City Council to reconsider the exemptions; specifically, the exclusion of adjunct faculty members . Across the nation, well over half of higher education instructors are non-tenure track faculty, including adjunct faculty, and many live below the poverty line. A large percentage of them are women, who are less likely to receive tenure than their male peers, particularly if they have children.
We thank Philadelphia City Council for requesting our input, and applaud the decision to finally move forward on earned paid sick days in Philadelphia.
Download the full Mayor’s Task Force on Paid Leave report here. The hearing is at 11:30AM in Room 400 of Philadelphia City Hall, and it is open to the public.