Paid sick time ordinance passes

A woman rallied with her baby Wednesday afternoon on the steps of City Hall for a new paid sick time ordinance. Photo by Sarah McKenzie

Advocates stood and applauded after the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve the state’s first municipal paid sick and safe time ordinance Friday morning.

The ordinance requires 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.

“This is such a significant moment for our city,” said Council Member Lisa Bender, who described the measure as a response to the “new economic and political realities for our country.”

With gridlock in Congress and state legislatures, Bender said cities are stepping up to protect low-wage workers, who sometimes can not take time off for their own or a family member’s illness without risking their livelihood. Paid sick leave can be “the difference between having a home and homelessness,” she said.

“Six years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant, and I know what it’s like to not have enough sick days,” Bender said.

Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden acknowledged the many people in the audience who helped usher the ordinance to a vote. It required labor advocates and the business community to make compromises, Glidden said.

“It was a large community effort that got us here, and you did it,” she said. “Thank you for pushing us to do the right thing.”

Council Member Blong Yang said he was voting for the measure despite his concerns about business impacts. “Time will tell” how North Side businesses in Yang’s Ward 5 will fare under the new ordinance, he said.

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

The ordinance takes effect July 1, 2017. Other cities, including St. Paul and Duluth, are considering similar measures.