LAST WEEK, a new parent from North Philadelphia dropped off her daughter at my day-care. I could see that the child wasn't feeling well and when I asked her mom about it, I could see the sadness and the fear emerge. "I will lose my job if I stay home with her," she told me as tears welled up in her eyes.

Thanks to 11 Council members who voted for earned sick time, fewer moms and dads will be forced into this heart-wrenching position. Keeping our kids healthy and making sure that their hard-working parents have money in their pockets to cover the basics are priorities that our elected leaders should be standing up for.

I speak not only as a Philadelphian concerned about our families, but also as a business owner concerned about keeping the doors open. I know there has been a lot of talk about sick days and small businesses, and I can say from my own experience that it not only works, but it helps my business thrive. The Institute for Women's Policy Research reports that earned sick days will save Philadelphia employers more than half a million dollars a year. For me, it is central part of my business plan. By offering my staff paid sick days, they know that I value and appreciate them, and it has helped me attract and retain a talented and dedicated staff.

When my employees are sick or need to take care of a sick loved one, they are able to stay home, rest, and get well without worrying about paying the bills or losing their job. And being in the business of caring for children, I can't have sick employees on the job - it puts the kids and the rest of the staff at risk, and that's a price I'm not willing to pay.

When I look beyond my staff, I think about the many people employed in child care, senior care, food service and retail who don't have paid sick days and go to work contagious. It puts all of us at risk.

A few paid sick days are not going to make or break any business in this or any other economic climate. City Council has done the right thing, and parents, kids, teachers, workers and business owners need Mayor Nutter to stand up on the right side of this issue. Mayor Nutter, please don't be swayed by the scare tactics of the business lobbyists. Sign the earned sick days bill for Philadelphia families, communities and businesses.

Yvonne Thomas

Philadelphia