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Council: Give Domestic Violence Victims Time Off From Work

Jennifer Serrano was a tough act to follow.  The young lady testified through tears this morning to a City Council committee considering legislation that would require employers to grant unpaid leave to victims of domestic violence.  Serrano told Council that she has lost jobs during an abusive relationship with a man who would lurk near her bus stop because he knew how she traveled to work.

Duane Bumb, deputy director of the Commerce Department, and officials from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, expressed sympathy for domestic violence victims but expressed concern about the economic impact of the legislation. Bumb called for it to be held until a cost-analysis of that impact could be measured.  Denise Earley of the Chamber said business owners are worried that the ability to take time off could be abused by employees and that the legislation allows repeated use of the leave policy.

The proposed legislation would require companies with more than 50 employees to grant up to eight weeks of unpaid leave. Companies with fewer than 50 employees would have to provide up to four weeks.

Councilman Bill Greenlee, the sponsor of the legislation, urged the Law and Government Committee to go forward, rejected a suggestion that the state could take the initiative on the issue.  "I don't want to hang by my thumbs waiting for the state to do good things," Greenlee said.  The committee approved the legislation, which means it could get its first reading by the full Council on Thursday and could come up for a final vote next week.