Nutter relents, will study paid sick leave

Posted: June 14, 2014

Mayor Nutter reversed course Thursday on his policy regarding paid sick days.

Citing the city's improving economic climate and his personal beliefs, Nutter said Thursday that businesses in the city should give their workers paid sick days. He created a task force to look into how the new policy should be rolled out.

The 15-member task force - led by Natalie Levkovich, executive director of the Health Federation of Philadelphia, and Lisa Crutchfield, a senior vice president at the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce - is expected to produce a detailed report by Dec. 1. The task force members are volunteering their time.

Nutter vetoed two bills, in 2011 and 2013, that would have mandated paid sick leave for most businesses in the city. At the time, he said he did not believe Philadelphia should pass a paid-sick-leave law when other municipalities in the region did not have one.

On Thursday, he said he simply had not had enough information at the time to support those bills. He said he also had not thought the economy was strong enough to impose such a policy.

During Thursday's announcement, in which he stood with City Councilman William K. Greenlee, who sponsored the earlier sick-time legislation, Nutter touted the city's most recent jobs report. April's unemployment rate was 6.8 percent, the lowest since May 2008.

"I do believe the time has come for the City of Philadelphia to have a paid-sick-leave policy," Nutter said. "The issue, of course, is always in the details."

The task force, composed of people who previously supported paid sick leave and those who didn't, will study the impact of such policies in other cities, among other things.

"Part of the value of having this task force is, we come to it with different points of view, but also with an open mind," Levkovich said. Her organization did not take a stance during the debate over the bill last year, but she was on the pro side.

Levkovich's cochair did not support the two previous bills. But Thursday, Crutchfield said she was looking forward to an in-depth analysis that would result in a policy that was fair to employees and employers.

Greenlee said Thursday that he hoped the task force would agree with his previous attempts.

"I think everyone should be for it," Greenlee said. Nutter "came to me with the idea, and certainly, I'm not going to turn down discussion."

Greenlee's bill initially passed, 11-6, in April 2013. After Nutter vetoed it, Greenlee did not have the 12 votes to override the mayor's decision.

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