Philadelphia City Council Approves Paid Sick Days, But It Won’t Go Far

On Thursday, the city council of Philadelphia approved, by a vote of 11-6, paid sick leave for employees. The proposal would require businesses with 6-20 employees to provide four paid sick days. Businesses of more than 20 would need to give seven days of paid leave.

But that is unlikely to happen unless one council member switches his or her vote. Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, is expected to veto the measure, and the council can only override that veto with a vote of 12-5. Nutter vetoed a similar effort in 2011.

Councilmembers who opposed the measure cited business concerns as the reason why:

Councilman Bill Green was among the ‘no’ votes, fearing a measure requiring businesses to provide earned sick days – up to seven per year for larger companies, and up to four for firms with between six and 20 workers – would kill jobs.

We need to create a regulatory environment that is good for business. I’ll be voting ‘no’ and I’ll ask my colleagues to do the same.

There’s no proof that giving employees paid sick leave negatively affects job creation or business growth. In fact, studies have shown the opposite. In San Francisco, for example, businesses expanded more quickly after the city adopted a paid sick leave measure. Still, the effect on business has become a constant sticking point for conservatives.

Aside from the human benefit, there’s also a health prerogative for passing paid sick leave. Eighty percent of low-income workers lack sick days, and many of them work in the service industry where they handle food or interact with customers. When the options are losing your wages for the day or going to work sick, there’s an understandable reason to go in. But it does mean that such workers are much more likely to spread disease, and even force their coworkers to take days off, too.