By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, who previously rejected bills that would require certain employers to grant paid sick leave to their workers, now has a report on his desk from his “Paid Sick Leave Task Force.”

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Saying that paid sick leave is a “complicated policy question that profoundly affects employees and employers,”Mayor Nutter said today that his previous position was one of timing.

“We were still recovering from the grips of an incredible, great recession,” he noted.

Two bills previously passed by City Council, vetoed both times by the mayor, mandated that small businesses with as few as five employees provide paid sick leave.

Nutter said his task force is recommending that employers with 15 or more workers provide paid sick leave to qualifying employees.

The prime sponsor of the previous legislation, Councilman Bill Greenlee (at right in photo), says they will tinker with the threshold determining the smallest companies covered.

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“I personally think fifteen (employees) is a little high,” Greenlee said.  He thinks ten may be a better number.

Joe Grace, policy director for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, says many of its member businesses would like to see a higher employer threshold.  He notes that task force members debated the definition of what constitutes a “small” business.

“Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, a small business is defined as 25 or more,” Grace points out. “Under the Affordable Care Act, a small business is defined as 50 employees, or more.”

Mayor Nutter and Councilman Greenlee expect City Council to fashion new, compromise legislation
in the coming year, potentially reaching the mayor’s desk by February.

Currently,  sixteen cities and three states have paid sick leave ordinances.

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