– The Associated Press

SEATTLE – Seattle is set to become the third U.S. city to require businesses to provide paid sick days for their workers, after a City Council vote Monday that supporters said could provide momentum for establishing similar laws across the country.

The council voted 8-1 to mandate that all but the smallest companies — those with fewer than five workers — give at least five paid days off a year to employees who are sick, need to care for a sick family member, or who are victims of domestic abuse and need to take time off to assist law enforcement or attend court hearings.

Businesses with more than 250 workers would have to provide nine days.

Mayor Mike McGinn is expected to sign the measure, putting Seattle in a league with San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and Connecticut, where a state law takes effect in January. Residents of Denver will vote on a similar measure this fall, and proponents are pushing for a statewide paid sick days law in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Milwaukee passed a sick-leave bill in 2008 that was later pre-empted by the state Legislature, and this year Philadelphia’s city council passed one that was vetoed by its mayor.

Nationwide, 44 million workers do not have access to paid sick days, according to the advocacy group Family Values at Work. An estimated 145,000 to 190,000 of them are in Seattle.

“Seattle residents shouldn’t have to choose between staying home sick and keeping their job,” McGinn said in a written statement.

Dozens of supporters attended the hearing, carrying and waving paper-plate signs that read “I’m a fan of paid sick days,” and met the vote with a standing ovation. Among them was grocery store cashier Natasha West-Baker, who said that without paid time off she had to work an eight-hour shift last Saturday immediately after she underwent an MRI for severe back pain.

“It’s not an OK way to live,” she said. “I’m the sole provider for a family of five. This is going to give me the time I need to be to be healthy and not worry about whether that day off is going to cost me the gas in my car or the food on my table.”

The proposal drew opposition from some in the business community.