From the Philadelphia Inquirer
By Dewetta Logan
The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is fighting a City Council measure that would require businesses to allow their employees to earn paid sick days. Although the past few years have not been easy for area business owners like me, the chamber’s contention that a few paid sick days will force businesses to shut their doors is simply not true.
I own and run a small child-care center in West Philadelphia, employing seven child-care providers who look after 30 children under the age of 6. It’s not a business designed to make extraordinary profits, but I work hard to make sure we earn enough to keep our doors open.
The children in our care are the top priority for my business, so it doesn’t make sense to have one of our employees working while sick. When members of my staff aren’t feeling well, they can’t give the children their full attention. Furthermore, coughs and colds can spread quickly among children, and I don’t want to be responsible for sickening a child who started the day healthy.
As a small-business owner, I face a number of challenges, but none of them affects the bottom line more than the dedication and loyalty of the staff. Small businesses like mine rely heavily on our workers, and it’s difficult when they have to take a day off. In the long run, though, providing benefits such as paid sick days is about respecting my employees, and I’m proud to say that I have a committed staff with little turnover.
For providing five paid sick days a year – and that’s five at most, because most of my employees don’t use all five – I can count on a happier, healthier workplace, which of course also happens to be the playground, lunchroom, and napping place of a few dozen children.
When I look beyond my employees, though, I am startled at how many Philadelphians don’t have paid sick days. I see parents dropping off sick children and heading off to their own jobs when they’re sick. It’s heartbreaking when we have to care for a child who should be at home with a parent. But raising a family is expensive, and many parents can’t afford to take a day off without pay, even when they or their kids need to.
And when workers who can’t afford to take a day off are on our buses, making our sandwiches, and taking care of our kids, more of the rest of us get sick more often. That’s no way to run a busy city like Philadelphia.
A few paid sick days are not going to make or break any business in this or any other economic climate. In fact, providing paid sick days will help businesses reduce their turnover, save money on recruitment and training, and create happier, healthier, more productive workplaces.
The chamber’s opposition to this measure does not represent the feelings of all business owners. Many of us understand the benefits of paid sick days, and we support this effort to ensure that all workers can stay home when they’re sick.