We have been listening: Working Families proposal will incorporate business, worker feedback

Some weeks ago, the City of Minneapolis released a draft policy framework for earned safe and sick time and fair scheduling. We have reached out to residents and businesses across the city to hear feedback on these ideas. In many of these conversations, there is a growing consensus among businesses and workers around a few key issues, especially for our fair scheduling proposal:

— A shorter window of 14 days advance notice of work schedules better aligns with the needs and practices of many work arrangements

— Establishing minimum scheduling standards that promote adequate rest between overnight “clopening” shifts and providing one (seventh) day of rest each week

— Preserving the status quo for scheduling practices that include “4-10s” (working four days for 10 hours per day) and split shifts

— Phased implementation based on size of business, allowing more time for smaller businesses to establish new systems and practices

— Seeking support from the city or other partners to provide education, training, and implementation assistance, including assistance around technology

We will work to incorporate these and other changes into any proposed ordinance language. We appreciate the generosity of many business owners and workers who have provided constructive feedback on what policy changes they do support, what they do not support, and what they recommend should be changed.  We commit to continuing the conversation and working on shared solutions to the challenges of unpredictable and last minute scheduling practices and lack of needed sick time for workers.

We want to commend and thank the many great employers that have shared their existing practices and commitment to earned safe and sick time benefits and fair scheduling practices.  You have described the good working relationships that exist between many employees and employers and your desire to remain competitive and attractive to dedicated employees.  Your best practices and suggestions will help us craft better policies.

We want to reiterate why we think this conversation about fair scheduling and earned safe and sick time is important.  Our city and regional economy are in great shape, better than most. But our city has some of the worst racial disparities in the nation. Our low-wage workers are disproportionately women and people of color, people who are working two or three low-wage jobs to just meet basic needs. These proposed policies are aimed at closing these disparities and moving our city toward a place where working people do not have to struggle so much just to pay the rent and put food on the table. 

Our proposed sick leave policies will protect workers from having to choose between going to work sick and taking time to take care of themselves or their family members. Sick leave will also protect workers and the general public from the risk of spreading disease.

Wage theft is already illegal, but still too common. We propose that the city take a more active role in coordinating with state and federal enforcement of illegal wage theft.

The proposed policies around fair scheduling have generated the most dialogue, in part because we are on the leading edge of this conversation. But this issue is critical to working people in Minneapolis. When someone doesn’t know if they will work 4 hours or 40 hours the next week or when those hours will be, it makes it hard to pay the rent, buy food, and pay and plan for child care. Last-minute changes in schedule have real financial costs and are extremely disruptive to low-wage workers’ lives, and this has big consequences for people living in poverty. Our proposed policies will not ban schedule changes, but rather would require employers to compensate their workers a small amount for changes to their schedules.

As we continue the conversation in Minneapolis about paid sick time, ending wage theft and fair scheduling, we look forward to more feedback from residents, workers and businesses and to bringing forward a policy that addresses the real challenges working families face without these protections.

City Council Vice Present Elizabeth Glidden represents the 8th Ward and Council Member Lisa Bender represents the 10th Ward.