Councilman-at-Large Bill Greenlee introduced the measure Jan. 24.
Council passed the legislation last session but Mayor Nutter ultimately vetoed it.
Greenlee, who led the effort last session with Council President Darrell Clarke, said he initially was apprehensive about the measure but ultimately saw its value.
“When it first came up, I thought it put too much pressure on businesses, but the more I talked to people, I realized it was a public-health issue,” he said.
The measure would allow employees at Philadelphia companies with 12 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, capping the earned hours at 56 per year. Businesses with five-11 employees would be required to give their workers up to 32 hours of earned paid sick leave per year. Businesses with fewer than five employees would be exempt from the law.
Among the stipulations of the measure, employees could take the paid time off to care for a same-sex partner.
The legislation is nearly identical to that of last session, although this version also allows for protections for victims of domestic violence.
Greenlee said employees of the housekeeping and restaurant industries are the ones who often work most directly with the public but are typically not granted paid sick leave.
“I think the overriding factor to me is the health and fairness of it; the priority of the individual themselves, their coworkers and the public,” the councilman said.
Greenlee said a paid sick-leave bill was launched in San Francisco with no significant hindrance to businesses.
With the recent flu epidemic, Greenlee said many Philadel-phians have been unable to stay home and take care of their health because of the lack of paid time off.
“If you are sick, it is often a dilemma. They think, is this going to make a difference if I can pay my bills this week?” he said.
Out attorney Sherrie Cohen was involved in the coalition to advance the legislation last session, lobbying for the bill, participating in rallies and speaking at a press conference with leaders from LGBT organizations.
Cohen said the bill is especially important for LGBT people.
“It respects and protects our families by allowing us to take leave to care for our partners and children,” she said. “For example, some people in our community who already have earned sick time cannot use it to care for their life partners; the earned sick-leave bill would ensure that people could use earned sick leave to care for life partners.”
Cohen noted that more than 40 percent of the city’s private-sector workers, or about 210,000 people, do not have paid sick days.
“As a result, people are forced to go to work when they are ill because they cannot afford to lose pay or to risk losing their jobs,” she said.
Greenlee said the bill has helped educate Philadelphians about the realities many local workers face.
“I’ve even had people in my neighborhood who said it was a good idea. People had no idea that a lot of individuals do not have paid sick leave. I think it will be the social-justice issue of the next decade and will have Philadelphia more out and front,” he said.
Greenlee introduced the measure with eight cosponsors. The bill will need nine votes to pass and 12 to stave off a potential mayoral veto.
“It is going to be tight,” he said. “I am confident, but not overconfident. I will have to keep working on it and enforcing its importance.”