What to Know
- The 21st Century Minimum Wage bill will gradually raise the minimum wage of city workers to $15 an hour by 2022.
- The Fair Workweek bill will require certain standards for employees, including reasonable notice of schedules and rest time between shifts.
- The Fair Workweek ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2020.
Mayor Jim Kenney signed into law legislation that will gradually raise the minimum wage for Philadelphia's city workers, as well as a bill that will guarantee predictable schedules for some 130,000 hourly employees in the service and hospitality industries.
“Today is a huge win for Philadelphia workers,” Mayor Jim Kenney said Thursday. “The Fair Work Week and Minimum Wage bills will go a long way to ensuring that our hard-working residents have the dignity of stable employment and a steady schedule."
The 21st Century Minimum Wage bill will gradually raise the minimum wage governing employees of contractors and subcontractors, as well as city workers, to $15 an hour.
Under the legislation, the minimum wage of approximately 2,000 city workers will rise from the current rate of $12.20 an hour, under the following schedule:
- $13.25 / hour as of July 1, 2019
- $13.75 / hour as of July 1, 2020
- $14.25 / hour as of July 1, 2021
- $15.00 / hour as of July 1, 2022
The minimum wage standard will continue to rise based on annual consumer price index adjustments once it hits $15 per hour.
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Meanwhile, the Fair Workweek bill will require certain standards for employees, including reasonable notice of schedules, rest time between shifts and opportunities for additional hours.
City council passed the bill last Thursday to cheers and thunderous applause. Only three council members voted against the bill, including Councilman Brian O'Neil who said he objected because the ordinance does not exempt workers already protected by union agreements.
"It should," he said as people jeered.
The bill, first introduced over the summer by Councilwoman Helen Gym and seven co-sponsors, will apply to large chain businesses with more than 250 employees in the retail, food or hospitality sectors with at least 30 locations across the country or state.
Inspired by similar legislation enacted in other cities, such as New York and Seattle, the ordinance will guarantee at least 11 hours rest time between shifts, opportunities to work additional hours and provide for enforcement and penalties if an employer does not comply.
Several business associations, however, were disappointed with the bill despite amendments introduced to quell fears that Philadelphia's job growth could slow down as a result of fair workweek.
“In the long run, it’s going to hurt the industry,” Ed Grose, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association, told NBC10. “We feel that we take care of our people."
The amendments included new exemptions for employers to staff last-minute ticketed events and large banquets and added language allowing employees to voluntarily change their schedules.
Perhaps most significantly, however, language was removed from the original bill prohibiting under-scheduling, or the practice of not scheduling enough hours per employee. Gym removed that provision because she felt the bill as written provided sufficient worker protections, the councilwoman said.
“This is a city council that is dedicated to ending poverty and supporting working families,” she said. “This is a bill that will do that.”
According to 2015 U.S. Census data, at least a quarter of Philadelphia’s service employees work part time. Many of these retail and service industry workers frequently face unpredictable schedules that change as often as the seasons.
The Fair Workweek ordinance will go into effect on January 1, 2020.