Below is the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s prepared testimony on City Council Bill No. 141026, which would require employers with 10 or more employees to provide mandatory paid sick leave. Joe Grace, Director of Public Policy for the Chamber, is delivering this testimony at a City Council committee hearing on Tuesday, February 3rd.

Testimony of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce

On City Council Bill 141026

February 3, 2015

Joe Grace, Director of Public Policy

Good morning Councilwoman Tasco and members of the Public Health and Human Services Committee. I am Joe Grace, Director of Public Policy for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the issue of mandatory paid sick leave in Philadelphia.

First, the Chamber would like to commend Councilman Bill Greenlee, the sponsor of this legislation, for his stalwart commitment to the cause of creating healthy workplaces in Philadelphia. We all support a healthy workplace environment that is safe for employers, workers and customers.

Our Chamber members are committed to their employees’ and the public’s health. When we surveyed our members last year on this issue, 85 percent responded that they already provide paid sick leave or paid time off for employees. At the same time, 70 percent of the respondents said they did not think that Philadelphia should require businesses to offer paid sick leave.

As those survey results reveal, the issue for the Chamber and its more than 2,000 member businesses located in Philadelphia has never been about providing paid sick leave, since so many of our members already provide it. The issue is competitiveness.

When the City of Philadelphia imposes mandates on businesses here that other neighboring jurisdictions do not impose, it puts city businesses at a competitive disadvantage.

Our businesses already operate under what is considered one of the highest-local tax burdens in the country. Our members need a local tax and regulatory environment that is more in step with enabling job creation that can revitalize Philadelphia’s economy.

Nevertheless, as the paid sick leave issue comes before this Council a third time, and as the Nutter administration now supports a paid sick leave law in Philadelphia, the Chamber has spent the last 9 months actively participating in the work to craft a paid sick leave policy.

The Chamber participated fully in the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Paid Sick Leave, with Lisa Crutchfield, the Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Advocacy & Public Affairs, and Dan Calista, CEO of Vynamic and a Chamber board member, both serving as co-chair of the task force at different times.

After the task force issued its report and this legislation was introduced in December, the Chamber spent the last several months working with our members and City Council, seeking a number of modifications to the bill to make it less adverse to businesses in our city.

With the backing of the city’s business community, we support the following amendments to the legislation before this committee:

-An amendment stating that nothing in the legislation will require an employer to change an existing leave policy or provide additional sick leave if their existing policy satisfies or exceeds the accrual requirements of the bill