Fierce Debate at Public Hearing About Proposed Paid Sick Time Ordinance in Minneapolis

May 19, 2016 09:05 AM

The draft ordinance before the Minneapolis City Council regarding paid sick and safe time off for workers treats “mom-and-pop” shops the same as larger businesses, workers accrue sick time at the same rate regardless of size of operation.

The National Partnership for Women and Families found in 2015 paid sick days are in place in at least 23 jurisdictions across the country—including four states, the District of Columbia and 18 localities.

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Minneapolis would be the first in Minnesota to require private businesses, with six or more employee's, to offer sick time to workers inside city limits possibly starting in July of 2017, if the council approves the ordinance.  At the first and only public hearing Wednesday, there was heated debate at City Hall.  Daniel Swenson Klatt owns Butter Bakery and already offers the benefit to his employees, "while it added 1 percent to my payroll cost, it's produced a return far beyond that, it's good business."

However, another business owner disagrees.  Joe Woods believes the city sponsored regulation is misguided, "the very people this is designed to help will hurt the most, because there will be less jobs, less tax base."

Here's a look at the proposal: worker clocks a minimum of 80 hours each year, one hour of sick time is earned fore very 30 hours on the job, it's capped at six days a year. The paid sick time must be used for mental or physical illness and injury, domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or taking time to care for a family member. 

"At the end of the day we're nothing without our people, so we have to take care of our people," said Seattle business owner of Cupcake Royale, Jody Hall.

The city of Seattle passed a paid sick and safe time ordinance  in September 2012.

Hall, originally from the Twin Cities, has a staff of 100 workers at six cupcake shops in Seattle.

“People need time to regroup rest and relax and rejuvenate, so it really hasn't been a huge issue," Hall said.

A University of Washington report from 2014, conducted with a sample of Seattle business found 70 percent in some form backed the ordinance.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS dug into the report to find there has been a downside for some business owners, 8.2 percent reported having to raise store prices.

In Seattle, if a business has less than 250 employees, workers only accrue 1 hour for every 40 hours worked, larger businesses workers accrue 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

When it comes to banking sick time, we discovered there is a difference, Minneapolis would allow an employee to roll-over 80 hours to the next year at any company, while Seattle limits roll-over hours based on business size.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS obtained documents dated September 2015, from  a public records request that showed the city of Minneapolis considered starting a new department at city hall to handle duties including paid sick and safe time, but that idea has since been changed to keep  it operated in the Department of Civil Rights.

A spokesman for Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights says to keep up with investigations, compliance, and outreach next fiscal year they are hoping to start a standalone department.

Independent contractors and casual workers aren't covered in the current proposal, which could still be amended before the City Council votes on it next Friday, May 27. 


Eric Chaloux & Beth McDonough

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