State Legislators Want to Gut Philly’s Sick Leave Law

A new bill would supersede all local leave mandates across the state.

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A group of Pennsylvania state senators are once again pushing for legislation that would end local employer leave laws like Philadelphia’s sick leave policy, which went into effect in mid-2015.

The bipartisan effort, SB128, led by Sen. John Eichelberger and Sen. Lisa Boscola, would keep localities like Philadelphia from overreaching and creating even more problems for employers and employees, the sponsors have said. According to a memo accompanying the legislation, local governments that pass employer mandates, though well intentioned, “cause problems with regard to issues where uniformity is important and policy should be set at the state level — where the primary power to preserve the general welfare resides.”

In other words, know your place, local government.

The lack of uniformity creates a hassle for businesses with multiple locations across the state, the memo says, because they have to comply with a number of different and evolving mandates.

The memo also points out that local leave mandates, because they are blanket policies in nature, tend to hurt small businesses.

Philadelphia’s paid sick leave ordinance requires organizations with 10 or more employees to allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. The legislation, sponsored by City Councilman-At Large Bill Greenlee, passed after a seven-year fight, and the last time the state tried to meddle with it in 2015 before it even took effect, Greenlee said that Philadelphia needs to do what’s right for Philadelphia.

This time around he told Newsworks, “There’s people who at one time could not take any time off if they or their family were sick that are now able to do it, and for the state to come in and nullify that seems totally unfair.”

Local business leaders have said that the paid sick leave law and legislation like the recent wage law and limits on credit checks make Philadelphia anti-business.

“State and federal governments are the appropriate policy makers when labor laws are involved,” the memo said. According to the author, 12 other states have already passed similar preemption bills.

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