In advance of their first official meeting of 2020, members of Philadelphia City Council outlined their legislative priorities, and several say they intend to introduce legislation to increase protections for employees.

Councilmember Cherrelle Parker (D-Ninth District), the new Council Majority Leader, told the Inquirer Editorial Board that she plans to introduce legislation encouraging employers to be “good actors.” She reportedly defines “good actors” as “businesses [that] treat their employees well in terms of providing a living wage, as well as providing access to quality benefits, including health care and retirement security.” Councilmember Parker, who previously served in the state legislature, is not new to employee-friendly legislation. During City Council’s last term in 2019, she introduced and garnered support for passage of a “just cause” ordinance that requires employers operating parking garages or lots in Philadelphia to demonstrate “just cause” or a “bona fide economic reason” to discharge a parking employee. 

In December, President Trump signed the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, providing more than two million federal workers with paid leave following childbirth or other qualifying events. Inspired by that policy, Councilmember Bobby Henon (D-Sixth District) wants to implement similar legislation at the local level, with key differences, including expanding coverage for both public and private sector workers and permitting employees to use paid leave to care for aging parents.

In addition to paid leave legislation, Councilmember Henon seeks a charter change to make the Mayor’s Office of Labor permanent. That office is tasked with enforcing prevailing wage rules for employers with City contracts, monitoring violations of the sick leave law, and investigating wrongful discharge complaints from parking employees.

Philadelphia City Council’s first official meeting of 2020 will take place tomorrow, Thursday, January 23, 2020, at City Hall. We will keep you apprised of legislation that affects employer hiring practices, policies, or procedures.

Ballard Spahr’s Labor and Employment Group tracks the latest trends and developments in labor and employment law and regulation, including in Philadelphia. Contact any member of the Group for more information.


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