Health Policies regarding paid leave


Every employee looks forward to paid sick leaves. There are many employees who often like to extend their holidays by taking their annual leaves, while others may present the excuse of being unwell and remaining absent from work, which may bring the companies they work in to question the absence of the employees on medical ground. This paper entails laws, regarding paid sick leave, passed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The law regarding paid leave was adopted in 2011 and requires employers contracting with the city to provide their employees with paid sick leave (The National Partnership for Women & Families, 2014).

The Health Issue

Paid sick leave is typically a health issue that affects an organization to a certain level. Whenever a firm grants sick leave to its employees without arranging for any backup, the organization may face some disruption regarding the normal for the workflow. Sick leave is nevertheless unavoidable in certain circumstances especially when an employee falls sick and has to stay off duty as a result of the illness. In this case, the employee would benefit from the law promoting paid sick leave while the organization will have to take the resulting responsibility.  This implies that such kind of leave can be unavoidable for the firms. The need to pay employees once they fall ill is fully recognized by the Philadelphia laws governing paid sick leave, which require that employees should be paid for the time they are off their work once they fall sick.

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Health Issue Background

Paid sick leave has been largely advocated through a coalition that calls for paid sick days among workers within the city of Philadelphia. The coalition has been led by Women’s Way and the PathWays PA to support the ordinance of Promoting Heath Families and Workplaces (The National Partnership for Women & Families, 2014). The main goal of the coalition and the call for paid work leave has been to enable workers earn at least one hour of their sick time for every 30 hours they have worked in their organizations.

Typically, the same trend has been seen in several cities in the United States since 2006 (Greenberg, 2014). In this case, a number of cities have enacted similar ordinances that require employees to provide a certain number of paid sick days annually to employees with some work activity levels in their respective cities. This case has seen a similar drift within Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Law

The current law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was adopted in 2011 when the bill was passed according to an article by the National Partnership for Women & Families (2014). The law requires all employers in the city to offer their workers with earned/paid sick leave. The paid sick leave ordinance, however, took effect in 2012. The law applies to the employers covered by the city’s ordinance, by contract. This implies that almost all employers within the city are expected to provide their employees with paid sick leaves (Pedrow & Clarke, 2012). The law guidelines exclude employers with less than five workers. Subcontractors are also not subjected to the law.

The ordinance specifically applies to the contractors after they receive any new contracts, concessions, leases, franchise, or even the city’s financial aid. The “City financial aid recipients” constitute the broadest group of the covered employers (Pedrow & Clarke, 2012). This category includes all entities that receive the city’s direct assistance in terms of grants, loan guarantees, loans, tax incentives, the city waiver fees, in-kind services, or even any real property that exceeds $100,000 within any given 12-month period (Pedrow & Clarke, 2012). Generally, the ordinance requires covered employers to provide the number of sick days earned by their employees or more. Typically, the existing paid leave policy is that “If the Employer has a paid leave policy, which makes available an amount of ‘paid leave’ per year that includes vacation days, personal days, sick days, etc., it will meet the requirements of the sick pay ordinance as long as the minimum number of days required is still provided” (Pedrow & Clarke, 2012).


            Paid sick leave as a health policy has faced a number of arguments regarding its benefits and the associated problems/costs. Regarding the associated benefits, it is certain that paid sick leave provides employees with more consistency and protection. Many employees are granted limited benefits by their employers especially the low-wage workers (Polson, 2014). Where one firm allows its employees to enjoy a substantial sick leave allowance, the other one might receive no allowance at all. The law is used in Philadelphia for redressing such imbalance existing between organizations. It is required in the health policy that the employees must be paid while they are on their sick leave, as it is their basic employment right and such type of legislation also contributes in improving the working life conditions.

When the employers do not pay to the sick employees for their time off then this certainly indicates that the employees have to return back to their job in order to meet their financial commitment. If the employees are ill and they are still working then they would certainly spread the illness in the work environment (Polson, 2014). This would impose an overall dramatic influence on rest of the employees. Therefore, allowing the employees to stay at home while they are sick is not just helping them get better but it also ensures that no one else get sick too.

Nevertheless, a problem arises when the policy is abused, especially by workers. Small businesses have a lot to lose from this legislation, although the policy excludes the smallest firms possible; firms with less than five workers. Such firms have small profit margins and having to cater to the needs of their sick employees can be difficult for them at times, as they are not able to afford their employees’ paid sick leave.

When employers are forced by the city authorities, through the health policy, to pay allowance to their employees while they are on sick leave, discrimination during employment opportunities may occur in which case, only the relatively young and totally healthy employees would be preferred to the weak and old workers who are prone to falling ill. In such case workers who are old, smokers or obese might find it difficult to find a job, as they are considered to be the part of group possessing higher instance of absenteeism. Employers may not be in good terms as expected with such employees once they get employed implying the need for good employers would not be applicable (Kelly & Kossek, 2008).

What Next

To avoid any problems, firm and employees should be in good terms when it comes to health policy governing paid sick leave in the City of Philadelphia. The city employers need to establish a sick leave policy whereby the employees taking off on any of the working days must be asked to produce a medical certificate. Another thing is that the employees must be aware of all the terms and conditions of the company’s sick policy (Polson, 2014). The city employers may advocate for a bill to treat any the sick leave of their employees as unpaid if they do not provide any valid proof of having been ill with respect to valid medical records. The employees need to fill the sick leave form, whenever they think of taking sick leave. This will help the firm to keep a track the employees’ sick leave pattern.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Sick leave is considered as a basic right of the employees. This implies that employees deserve sick leave without being victimized by their employers or specific organization policies. Nevertheless, the employees need not misuse their chances of getting paid sick leave from their employers. There are several measures that can be employed by companies to make sure that the paid sick leave is actually being used for improving the health of the employees and not for any other purposes (Polson, 2014).

It can be recommended that in any situation where the employees are found abusing their sick leaves, the company should immediately take notice of such consequences. The manager may then ask the employees the reason for not attending work, which they must together try to sort out. If the company implements the above mentioned action and strategies they will definitely reduce the risk of abuse of sick paid leaves. The employees and managers could be on the same page from the beginning when it comes to sick leave policy. If there is even some element of the policy misuse, then the abuse may become more disruptive for the organizational work schedule.


Greenberg, K. (2014). A Dual Perspective on City-Mandated Paid Sick Leave Policies. Retrieved from

Kelly, E. L., & Kossek, E. E. (2008). Getting There from Here: Research on the Effects of Work-Family Initiatives on Work–Family Conflict and Business Outcomes. The Academy of Management annals, 305-349.

Pedrow, B. D., & Clarke, E. K. (2012, June 26). City of Philadelphia Guidelines Clarify Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. Retrieved from

Polson, D. (2014, February 2). Workers deserve paid sick leave: Yet some Pennsylvania legislators not only don’t like it, they want to stop local governments from guaranteeing it, writes social scientist Diana Polson. Retrieved from post-gazette:

The National Partnership for Women & Families. (2014, October). State and Local Action on Paid Sick Days. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from nationalpartnershi:




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