CITY HALL — Aldermen proposed extending paid sick days to all Chicago employees in legislation to be delivered at Wednesday's City Council meeting.
Calling the proposed ordinance "pro-business and pro-worker," Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said he'd submit the ordinance, co-sponsored by Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th).
Foulkes cited her experience working in a Jewel bakery department as a cake decorator in pointing to statistics showing that 80 percent of workers in food service and preparation do not receive paid sick days.
"When they go to work sick, they put the public at risk," Foulkes said in a news conference before Wednesday's City Council meeting.
"This is a pro-business ordinance," Moreno added, saying that all businesses would benefit from the health of their workers.
Chicago would join a growing number of cities requiring employers to offer paid sick leave. Business groups elsewhere have predicted such sick leave laws would result in fewer raises and bonuses, reduced hours and potential layoffs.
Proponents cited statistics by the Institute for Women's Policy Research showing that 42 percent of Chicago workers, or more than 460,000, do not receive paid sick days. Most of those, they said, work in low-paying jobs in food establishments and child care.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 2.5 million cases of food-borne illnesses a year are passed on by sick restaurant workers.
"It's common sense, and it's time to act," said Anne Ladky, executive director of Women Employed, a Chicago-based agency devoted to women's work issues.
According to Moreno, the proposed ordinance will allow workers to accrue five to nine paid sick days a year, depending on the size of the business, by adding an hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. It would also allow workers to take paid sick days to care for ill family members.
Aldermen Ameya Pawar (47th), Joe Moore (49th) and Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) also lined up to support the ordinance, along with Foulkes and the seven other members of the Progressive Reform Caucus.
A similar law goes into effect in New York city on April 1. The measure had been vetoed by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg but the city council overrode his veto.
Bloomberg said such laws "hurt small businesses and stifle job creation."
Portland, Ore., Seattle, Wash., Washington DC, and San Francisco have similar laws, according to USA Today.