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Paid Sick Leave Legislation Takes Step Forward in Council

Amidst the hubbub over schools funding and DROP, it's easy to miss that another big issue bubbled up in Council today. Legislation to that would require Philadelphia employers to provide paid sick days has been moved back to the regular legislative calender, with a chance it could get final passage before Council breaks for the summer.

The legislation -- sponsored by Councilmen Darrell Clarke and Bill Greenlee -- will be amended. Greenlee said the amended version will exempt workplaces covered by union contracts. In addition, the number of sick days workers could earn will be limited. Workers at businesses with 10 or less workers could earn up to four sick days, while those at larger businesses to earn up to 7, Greenlee said.

Greenlee said he hoped the changes would ease the fears of many in the business community. He added that he thinks he has enough votes to pass the legislation. The soonest the bill could receive final passage and be sent to the mayor for approval would be June 9.

"Is it government's role to try to help?" Greenlee said. "The most noteworthy stuff government does is addressing unfairness."

The sick-leave legislation has prompted heated debate since it's introduction in March. Advocates say the bill would help provide a safety net for an estimated 210,000 Philadelphia workers who don't have paid sick days. But some businesses have raised concerns and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce opposes the bill, saying it could hurt job creation in a tough economic time.

Mayor Nutter opposes the bill, saying it could be bad for business. A spokesman this week declined to comment on whether Nutter would veto the bill if it passes out of Council.