GOODE to expand Living Wage & Healthcare Benefits Law

After voters overwhelmingly approved the change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter by more than a 7 to 3 margin last Tuesday, I decided to broaden the impact of the living wage and benefits standard ... so I introduced the Leaseholder Wage and Benefits Bill last Thursday to broaden the definition of employers subject to the New Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance.

The New Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance requires City-supported employers to pay at least 150% of the federal minimum wage to its employees. It also mandates that if the employer provides healthcare benefits to any of its employees, the employer shall provide each full-time employee healthcare benefits at least as valuable as the basic healthcare benefits that are provided to the employer’s other full-time employees. There is an exemption for small businesses. Employers subject to the ordinance include:

(1) The City of Philadelphia, including all its agencies, departments and offices.

(2) For-profit Service Contractors, which receive or are subcontractors on contract(s) for $10,000 or more from the City in a twelve-month period, with annual gross receipts of more than $1,000,000.

(3) Non-profit Service Contractors which receive or are subcontractors on contract(s) from the City of more than $100,000 in a twelve-month period.

(4) Recipients of City leases, concessions, or franchises, or subcontractors thereof, which employ more than twenty-five (25) employees.

(5) City financial aid recipients. Compliance shall be required for a period of five years following receipt of aid.

(6) Public agencies, which receive contract(s) for $10,000 or more from the City in a twelve-month period.

The Leaseholder Wage and Benefits Bill amends the New Minimum Wage and Benefits Ordinance to establish that a tenant or leaseholder of a City Financial Aid Recipient who occupies property or uses equipment or property that is improved or developed as a result of the City aid shall be considered a “City Financial Aid Recipient” and shall be covered for the same period as the City Financial Aid Recipient of which they are a tenant or leaseholder.

The purpose of the original law was to assure that as many employees as possible within the City of Philadelphia earn an hourly wage that enables them to live with more dignity and increased economic self-sufficiency. The City contracts with many businesses and organizations to provide services to the public, and provides financial assistance to developers for the purpose of promoting economic development and job growth. Such public expenditures should also be invested in a better community economic standard. The use of City funds to provide better wage jobs will decrease poverty, increase consumer income, invigorate neighborhood businesses and reduce the need for taxpayer funded social service programs. The local minimum wage standard is based on existing local and state job creation tax credit laws and this new amendment will broaden its impact.

This sounds great, Councilman

I'm just wondering, though, what kind of penalties will there be for noncompliance, and what office-holder or agency will be responsible for enforcement? Also, it would be great if employees denied the living wage would have the right to sue for back wages, with their attorneys able to collect attorney fees. Is anything like that included?

Thanks, Stan - it's all there! :)

The penalties are currently determined by the Finance Director - up to debarment - and City Council can recommend penalties, up to debarment, forcing the Finance Director to act (Bill 090579).

The Office of Labor Standards is the primary agency responsible for monitoring and compliance but the recent Charter amendment gives City Council the power to create an enforcement agency, including City Council itself (Resolution 090610).

Employees do have a right to private action to get back pay under the original ordinance (Bill 050234).


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