Two Cities Push for Earned Sick Days Legislation

It’s a common-sense provision that makes life better for working people: giving employees the chance to earn sick time so that they can take a day off when they, or a family member, are under the weather. This January, two cities are considering whether to guarantee earned sick days to employees: Philadelphia and Portland.

Tomorrow, Philadelphia Councilor William Greenlee will introduce a new earned sick days bill to City Council. In 2011, the Council actually passed an earned sick days bill, but Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed it. (Nutter has also come under criticism for a budget that tilts towards corporations while cutting services for working-class families.)

Greenlee and community groups point out that this isn’t just about fairness for workers—it’s about public health:

Proponents of the bill describe paid sick leave as an issue of basic fairness, as well as a public health matter that would allow sick people to stay home without losing pay. There are more than 38,000 health care workers and more than 36,000 hotel and restaurant workers in the city who do not have paid sick leave, according to Council figures.


Rosalie, a Philadelphia Working America member and the mom of a two-year-old son, talks about why earned sick days matter to her in this video.

Across the country, Commissioner Amanda Fritz is introducing an earned sick days bill for workers in Portland, Oregon. She’ll introduce the bill on Jan. 31, with an eye on a February vote.

This issue is especially relevant right now because we’re in the midst of a severe flu season. Nearly 2 out of every 5 private sector workers—and a large majority of people working in restaurants—don’t have the chance to earn sick days.

This should be a no-brainer—it’s a way to protect employees and customers alike. Earned sick days are a great example of a policy that makes jobs better and improves quality of life for working people. Philadelphia and Portland should pass legislation to ensure them this year.