Paid sick time ordinance nearing final vote

The City Council is one step away from enacting a municipal paid sick and safe time ordinance.

Meeting Thursday afternoon in the Committee of the Whole, council members moved efficiently through a series of amendments to the proposed ordinance, which would require any employer with at least six employees to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick time annually. Smaller employers must allow time off, but it can be unpaid.

The amended ordinance was approved unanimously. A final vote is scheduled for the Council’s regular Friday meeting.

The amendments approved Thursday were largely technical changes. The Council also acted to clarify how the rules would apply to casual workers in the healthcare industry who are employed on a temporary basis and added additional supports for small businesses, many of which are owned and operated by immigrants who already face challenges navigating city regulations.

Several amendments offered by Council Member Jacob Frey clarified the appeals process for employees and employers when there is a disagreement over granting sick time.

Under the ordinance, employees earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. The ordinance doesn’t affect employers who already offer more generous sick time or paid time off plans.

Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden said the impending passage of the ordinance was “one of the most impactful things I’ve been a part of ever.”

An estimated 41 percent of Minneapolis workers don’t currently have access to paid time off for their own or a family member’s illness. Those who don’t have sick time are disproportionately low-income workers and people of color.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, who spoke at the beginning of the Committee of the Whole meeting, said the ordinance got to the “heart of racial equity in this city.”

“It’s the right thing for workers,” Hodges added. “No one should have to choose between getting paid and getting well.”

If approved, the ordinance would take effect July 1, 2017. Although other cities, including St. Paul, are considering similar measures, Minneapolis is set to become the first in the state to require paid sick time.

Many of the recommendations emerged from the Workplace Partnership Group, which included both business and labor representatives.

About 70 people testified during a May 19 public hearing on the ordinance. The vast majority were in support.

— Sarah McKenzie contributed to this report