In staying true to its goal of being the “Most Livable City,” Pittsburgh passed the Paid Sick Days Act yesterday, providing approximately 50,000 Pittsburgh workers the ability to earn paid sick days.
The victory in Pittsburgh comes on the heels of a similar ordinance passed in Philadelphia.
Women’s Law Project is proud to have been part of the unified effort to pass earned paid sick day legislation in both cities. Specifically, we were sure to inform lawmakers the ways that a lack of access to paid sick leave disproportionately affects women, who are often both primary breadwinners and caretakers of their families.
“Paid sick days in Pittsburgh is a win-win,” says Sue Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney at Women’s Law Project in Pittsburgh. “It’s a win for workers, and also a victory for public health. Over three quarters of Pittsburgh’s service workers had no paid sick time, and these workers—food service workers, health care workers—come into close contact with lots of people. When they come to work sick, they make other people sick.”
National Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that low-income workers, who are disproportionately women and minorities, have less access to paid sick leave than other workers. Women are disproportionately the primary caregivers in modern families and increasingly, the primary breadwinners, too. In a recent survey, 47 percent of women who stayed home to care for a sick child reported losing pay, a particularly difficult burden in tough economic times.
Sponsored by Councilman Corey O’Connor, and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Natalia Rudiak, Ricky Burgess and Deb Gross, amendments to the legislation passed with seven in favor, one against, and one abstention.
The Act ensures up to five paid sick days for employees of businesses with 15 or more employees. Employees of businesses with fewer than 15 employees would get up to three paid sick days.
“We don’t want people to come to work simply because they are afraid of losing jobs or losing their pay,” said City Councilman Corey O’Connor.
Today’s vote came after weeks of discussion and feedback and public comment from the community, during which time advocates worked with lawmakers to create a meaningful bill.
Pittsburgh is now the 20th city nationwide to grant workers paid sick leave. Four states have also passed paid sick leave requirements.
Text: Tara Murtha, WLP Staff