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Council Committee Will Debate Sick Leave Again, And This Time The Mayor Seems To Be On Board

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- For the third time since 2011, a city council committee will debate a plan that would force local businesses to offer all workers paid sick leave.

Unlike the first two attempts, the mayor seems to be on board.

Before Council's Public Health Committee is a measure that would require local businesses offer one hour of sick leave for every forty hours an employee works.

The sponsor, Councilman-at-large Bill Greenlee, says for a full-time worker that equates to about five paid sick days a year.

"I don't believe that in 2015 a worker being able to earn five paid sick days a year to take care of their health and the health of their family is an unfair burden on businesses," he says.

Greenlee's earlier efforts in 2011 and 2013 died after vetoes by Mayor Nutter. This time two things are different: Nutter appears to be supportive after he convened a task force last year to study the issue, and secondly, Greenlee says this time he has the twelve votes needed to override a veto, which he did not have before.

Advocates of paid sick leave will appear at today's committee hearing, as will some business leaders who oppose the idea:

"There are businesses and business groups who don't think we should do this at all. And all I can say is that I respectfully disagree. I think this is a fair law that's gone around the country, and obviously the President spoke about it in his State of the Union address."

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is expected to voice concerns about the bill and urge some amendments.

The Greenlee measure applies to all companies with ten or more workers. The Chamber supports a threshold of fifteen workers, the number recommended by the mayor's task force.

The Councilman says he won't budget on ten. He says several thousand workers would fall in between those two thresholds, and he believes those workers are among those most likely to not have any sick leave currently.

Sixteen cities and three states currently have paid sick leave ordinances.

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