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O'Connor Proposes Paid Sick Leave For All Workers In The City

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Workers recently demonstrated downtown, demanding that all employers provide paid sick leave to everyone who works in the city.

"Losing pay or working sick," chanted workers.

Councilman Corey O'Connor agrees, saying employees should not choose between losing pay and working sick.

"You don't want employees coming in at 25, 30 percent of their health," O'Connor told KDKA politics editor Jon Delano. "You want them at 100 percent. Obviously, they will be more productive for you. And not only that, you don't want other people to get sick."

Calling it a public health measure, O'Connor says all employers with 15 or more workers should give up to nine days of paid sick leave to employees.

Those with under 15 workers must provide up to five days of paid sick leave.

How long you've worked dictates how much paid sick leave you get: one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

"Just because you work in the city of Pittsburgh, you don't automatically get a sick day," added O'Connor.

O'Connor says 40 percent of private sector workers and 77 percent of service workers do not now get sick leave.

The small business community says a bill like this really impacts them.

Why? Because if any employee calls off sick, it puts a strain on the few who are left behind to work.

"No show, no call, and you're going to pay them? That would never work," says Jeff Cohen, owner of the Smallman Street Deli.

Cohen says he pays workers off sick when they have a doctor's excuse, but worries this bill encourages workers to call in sick just to take a holiday.

"The last people in the world who should be deciding how local businesses are run are local governments," adds Cohen.

Steve Shivak, with the SMC Business Councils, says mandatory sick leave will drive companies out of the city.

"Employers that have the ability to move and don't like this would look immediately at the footprint outside the city to reestablish their businesses," notes Shivak.

Hearings on O'Connor's bill are expected soon.

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