Philadelphia Passes Paid Earned Sick Days Bill

By Tara Murtha, WLP Staff

We did it! Philadelphia is now the 20th  jurisdiction in the United States to guarantee certain workers the ability to earn paid sick days.

The measure has been passed by City Council twice before, so it’s easy to say the third time’s a charm. But this success is, of course, is the result of a full-court press by advocates who refused to give up. As Ellen Bravo of Family Values at Work wrote earlier today, “This third time has nothing to do with charm and everything to do with smart organizing, grit, and a transformed political landscape.”

From Bravo’s article:

It started with the broad and diverse Philadelphia Healthy Families and Workplaces Coalition, dozens of groups concerned about ending poverty and caring for seniors, about gender and racial justice, about the well-being of kids and about economic growth.

The coalition included low-wage workers looking for a small but significant reform that would let them hang on to their paychecks and their jobs when they or a loved one was ill. As restaurant worker Jason McCarthey put it, “There’s a sick worker at nearly every restaurant in this city every day. We should be able to stay home and not spread germs when we’re sick.”

Women’s Law Project is proud to have been part of this effort. We gave feedback on the bill and recommendations of the Task Force. Staff attorney Amal Bass testified in City Hall to support the bill while making 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.

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. 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.

In a nice bit of progressive symmetry, Philadelphia is celebrating the passing of earned paid sick days the same day that Senator Murray and Representative DeLauro plan to reintroduce the Healthy Families Act. Follow us on twitter at @womenvotepa as we show our support for the Healthy Families Act by participating in a twitter storm today kicking off at noon at #HFAnow.

This victory reinforces what we already know: We can make significant progress if we work together. Mayor Nutter is expected to sign the bill at 2pm in City Hall.

To stay posted about similar issues and efforts to improve the lives of women and girls in Pennsylvania, follow us on twitter at @womenvotepa & like us on Facebook at

About womenslawproject

The Women's Law Project creates a more just and equitable society by advancing the rights and status of all women throughout their lives. To this end, we engage in high-impact litigation, advocacy, and education.
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2 Responses to Philadelphia Passes Paid Earned Sick Days Bill

  1. Pingback: PA Trying to Kill Philadelphia’s Earned Paid Sick Days | Women Vote PA

  2. Janice Glass says:

    About time! I have worked as a waitress in my younger days and my husband is a bartender.In my professional life I got paid sick leave (nurse) although a cold was not a valid reason for calling out sick! Someone who is immunocompromised I could make them sicker! I watch my husband go in sick every year as he does not get sick leave. For 32 years,he has only called out 2 days when his father died! He rarely takes vacation as he loses money there also! Good job on your part! Lets go for statewide !

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