City looks at forcing sick pay

Tiffany Lomax knows what it’s like to need a sick day and not be able to take one — or have to forfeit a day’s pay after dealing with her 13-year-old son’s litany of health problems.

“He suffers with severe asthma, seizures and … real bad allergies,” said Lomax, 38, a single mother. “For the first two years of his life I couldn’t keep a job because I could never stay past the 31 days of probation because I always had to take time off for him.”

Fortunately for Lomax and her son, she got a job at Women’s Way and now has 10 sick days. Today, she will be among a group of supporters for a proposed City Council bill that would require employers in Philadelphia to give workers paid sick time. An estimated 210,000 working Philadelphians do not have paid sick time.

Under the legislation, large employers would be required to provide 72 hours a year and 40 hours a year for small businesses. Pro-business organizations claim the bill would burden employers.

“Unfortunately, the end result is companies will hire fewer people, end their internship programs, and lay off part-time help, all at a time when Philadelphia’s unemployment rate of 10.7 percent exceeds the national level,” Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rob Wonderling said.

San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Milwaukee have all passed similar legislation. A recent study in San Francisco law showed that six of seven employers did not report any negative effect on profitability.

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