PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It has to be a heated debate: Should Allegheny County companies be required to pay their employees paid sick leave?
Allegheny County Council will vote early next week. One side says it will be another blow to small businesses already struggling during this pandemic. The other said it was the humane thing.
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Nick Futules is an Allegheny County councilor who also owns a restaurant. Both of these are against a bill that would require companies based in the county to pay their employees for their illness.
“Who are we as the county council to tell small businesses how to do business?” said Futules.
The council is expected to vote on Tuesday on whether companies will have to pay their employees for up to five sick days a year. However, Futules anticipates the measures will solve small problems as he prepares beer-beaten fish for Friday’s fish roast at his Harmar House restaurant, taking a punch during the pandemic.
“It could lead to layoffs. This could even result in companies leaving the county, ”he said.
But Council Chairman Patrick Catena says he wrote the bill after being served by a restaurant waitress who was obviously ill. Catena asked her why she didn’t just go home.
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“And she said, ‘If I’m not here and not working, I won’t get paid.’ And that obviously got me thinking about things, ”said Catena.
According to Catena, providing sick leave is humane and increases worker productivity and safety.
“Why do you want your employees to work sick? It could affect your productivity, damage your reputation and of course make other people sick, ”he said.
Since it was introduced earlier this week, the bill has been amended to exempt companies with 25 or fewer employees from the tax. However, Catena says the provision is under discussion and that he and others are in favor of the measure for all businesses – much like the Pittsburgh laws already in place in the city, something the Futules indignantly.
“I call us the copycat council because if the City of Pittsburgh does this, our council members think they have to,” says Futules.
“Of course there will be a cost to pay that will have to be borne by the business owners. However, to make sure you infect your customers and not anyone, you can’t set a price for it.” Said Catena.
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There could be a vote this Tuesday night, but Futules claims the bill is being rushed. He says it is too important and should be the subject of a public hearing.