Council OKs sick-leave bill; mayor likely to veto

Posted: March 15, 2013

CITY COUNCIL on Thursday once again passed a controversial bill that would require most Philadelphia businesses to provide paid sick leave.

It's the second go-round for a measure that Mayor Nutter vetoed in 2011. He's expected to veto it again, and it's not clear whether the bill's sponsor, Councilman Bill Greenlee, will get the requisite 12 votes to override a veto.

The bill passed, 11-6, with nay votes from Councilmen Mark Squilla, Brian O'Neill, Bill Green, Jim Kenney, Denny O'Brien and David Oh.

"The issue is not that businesses will close over the sick-leave bill," Oh said. "The issue is . . . that we are going to, over time, lose a certain number of businesses that are going to fail or move out."

Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who voted for the bill, said now may not be the time for a sick-leave bill, especially with the city preparing to move to a new property-tax system based on market values, the Actual Value Initiative. Small businesses faced tax increases this fiscal year and stand to face increases again next fiscal year under AVI, she said.

"I believe this bill is poorly timed," Bass said. "I believe this bill can happen, but to everything there is a season, time and a purpose."

Greenlee, though, said that he had waited long enough and that it's time to proceed.

"Do we say yes to earned sick leave because it is simply the right thing to do or no because it's not the right time?" Greenlee asked, before quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. "It is always the right time to do the right thing."

Nutter has said the bill would hurt businesses and jobs. Business leaders have expressed similar sentiments. Meanwhile, restaurant workers and other employees said it would help prevent the spread of illnesses, since they would be inclined to stay home rather than work sick.

Under the bill, businesses with six to 20 workers would be required to provide four paid sick days a year, and larger businesses would have to provide seven days. Mom-and-pop stores would be exempt. Interns, nonregular employees, and state and federal employees would be excluded.

Nutter has until April 4 to veto the bill.



On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom


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