The 19-member group drafting a citywide sick-leave policy recommendation for Minneapolis is edging closer to a plan -- but has several decisions to make before its late-February deadline.
The Workplace Partnership Group, made up of business owners, workers and representatives of labor and business groups, has been meeting since December. Its members held more than a dozen listening sessions to gather feedback from the community and are now drafting a proposal to take to the Minneapolis City Council.
So far, the group has agreed on a few key points: that a new ordinance should apply to all employees who work in Minneapolis -- even if their employer is based elsewhere -- and that employees should be covered if they work at least 80 hours per year in the city.
The group has not yet agreed on how much paid sick leave employees could earn, if some businesses would get exemptions based on their size, or how the city would check up on an individual businesses' practices.
A proposal released by the mayor and some council members last fall, which was tabled after push back from businesses, suggested that employees could earn up to 40 or 72 hours of paid sick leave each year, depending on the size of the business. The rule would have applied to all Minneapolis businesses, and was aimed at helping low-wage workers and chipping away at racial inequities in wealth and the workplace.
In discussions about a revised Minneapolis policy, group members have pointed to ordinances already on the books in 21 U.S. cities, four states and one county. Some members have suggested that Minneapolis should copy wording from some of those policies, though the group has also had lengthy discussions about potential problems with those plans. On Monday, group members pondered if a city policy could cover people quarantined after exposure to the Ebola virus, or how employers might handle an outbreak that shut down schools.
Some group members also worried about the city developing a sweeping policy that might ignore differences between industries, such as unpredictable shift lengths at a restaurant.
Dayna Frank, owner of the downtown music venue First Avenue, said business owners have repeatedly expressed concerns about a policy that would overlook their individual needs and demands.
"There's no solution we can come up with in this room that will fit for every single industry, so why don't we leave it up to the industry?" she said.
The group has two more meetings scheduled before it turns over a plan to the city. It's now considering extending those meetings or adding another session.