Philadelphia’s Paid Sick Days Law Takes Effect Today But Hurdles Remain

| May 13, 2015

After a years-long fight for paid sick days in Philadelphia, a law passed overwhelmingly by the City Council earlier this year takes effect today. Thanks to the incredible work of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces and support from national organizations, workers at businesses with 10 or more employees will now earn one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked.

This is a major and long overdue victory for advocates and workers in the city. After vetoing similar legislation twice, Philadelphia Mayor Nutter finally signed the paid sick days bill into law this year, just hours after the City Council approved it. The mayor now cites the legislation as one of the key ways the city is addressing the growing problem of income inequality. But sadly, that’s not the end of the story.

There has been a lot of action around paid sick days in Pennsylvania (and the nation) since this exciting development. Last month, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett stopped in the city as part of the administration’s “Lead On Leave” tour, joined by Mayor Nutter and others. Jarret held up Philadelphia’s paid sick days win as an example for the rest of the nation to follow.

Jarret also addressed the fact that, despite the increasingly clear demand for paid sick days from coast to coast, Pennsylvania’s Republican-controlled state Senate recently approved legislation that would prevent local governments in Pennsylvania from adopting earned sick time laws in the future. The state interference or “preemption” bill would also retroactively void the law in Philadelphia which, not coincidentally, is the only city in the state that can pass such a measure.

The good news is that the great work of advocates and legislators and knowledge of the overall importance of paid sick days have so far kept the Pennsylvania House from approving this misguided attempt to reverse Philadelphia’s law. And Governor Tom Wolf has clearly stated that he will veto this bill if it reaches his desk. There is still time to make a difference. If you live in Pennsylvania, your lawmakers need to hear from you. Contact Marianne Bellesorte for more on how you can help.

As Jarrett argued during her visit, Pennsylvania lawmakers should be focused on increasing access to paid sick days in the state – not wasting time trying to roll back a hard-fought and much-needed victory for Philadelphia families. “I think, frankly, Pennsylvania should follow Philadelphia’s lead,” she said. She couldn’t be more right.