Pittsburgh City Council member Corey O’Connor introduced an ordinance that mandates some employers provide paid sick days for certain employees today. The number of paid sick days would depend on the number of hours an employee worked within a given week, with a cap of either 72 or 40 hours per year, depending on the size of the employer. Thirty hours of work would accrue one hour of paid sick time.
Mr. O’Connor said the law would prevent workers from having to choose between losing a day’s pay or coming to work sick. According to a draft of the ordinance, about 40 percent of Pittsburgh’s private sector workers and 77 percent of service workers have no paid sick time. The National Partnership for Women and Families, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, estimates that 43 million people nationwide have no paid sick time.
“I don’t want somebody cooking who shouldn’t be at work that day,” Mr. O’Connor said.
It also would prevent employees from having to lose wages to stay home to take care of a sick child or another family member.
Approximately 50,000 working Pittsburghers do not have access to a paid sick day. The ordinance is supported by Pittsburgh for Paid Sick Days, a coalition of faith-based organizations, women’s rights groups, organized labor and community members. Women’s Law Project is proud to be a member of this effort.
The introduction of a paid sick leave ordinance in Pittsburgh is part of a wave of similar actions in cities across the country. Philadelphia passed a paid sick leave ordinance in February.
Women’s Law Project Staff Attorney Amal Bass testified about the disproportionate impact having no access to paid sick days has on working women at a hearing on the issue in Philadelphia.
From our testimony:
At the WLP, a large portion of our work involves efforts to improve the health, safety, and economic security of women. We have seen how the absence of paid leave exacerbates the work-family imbalance that women bear disproportionately as the primary caregivers of their families.
A paid leave ordinance like the one we are discussing today would alleviate many of the burdens on these caregivers. It would protect the health of women and their families, address public health concerns, and promote efficiency and stability for the city’s businesses.
The battle for paid sick days in Pittsburgh will be an interesting one. As Philadelphia progressed toward passing its ordinance, the state Legislature responded by introducing what’s known as a pre-emption bill which, if passed, would prevent other cities from passing similar ordinances.
After Philadelphia passed paid sick days, the state’s bill was amended to include a retroactive amendment that would not only prevent other Pennsylvania cities from passing an ordinance like the one being introduced in Pittsburgh today, but also strip Philadelphia of its hard-won progress.
-Tara Murtha, WLP Staff