Minneapolis officials have unveiled details of the citywide sick-leave ordinance — and its enforcement — setting the City Council up for a vote on the issue in the near future.
The council is to discuss the proposed ordinance in a special committee meeting Thursday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, the city released the details, which largely follow recommendations offered in March by a 19-member Workplace Partnership Group assigned to study the issue.
If approved after a public hearing in the coming weeks or months, the ordinance would go into effect July 1, 2017.
The ordinance would cover all businesses with six or more employees who perform at least 80 hours of work in Minneapolis, with some exceptions: independent contractors, construction workers paid prevailing wages, construction apprentices, health care providers who are considered “casual” employees, and employees of federal, state or other local governments and agencies. It would apply to Minneapolis city workers.
Workers could earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 48 hours per year. The time could be used after an employee had been on the job for 90 days, and carried over from year to year, up to a cap of 80 hours. The paid time off could be used when an employee or his or her family member is sick, or for time off related to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who authored the proposal along with Council President Barb Johnson and Council Members Lisa Bender and Andrew Johnson, said she believes it shows that officials listened to a variety of interests through a deliberate process.
“I feel good that this honors the work of the [Workplace Partnership Group],” she said.
Council members have been discussing the issue since last spring, when Mayor Betsy Hodges announced that she would pursue citywide ordinances on paid sick leave, scheduling and wage theft. The Working Families Agenda hit a wave of backlash from business owners over a proposal on scheduling, and officials tabled that plan. In late 2015, discussions about sick leave were turned over to the appointed panel of workers, business owners and representatives of business and labor groups.
The Partnership Group issued its recommendations this spring. It called for a broad-based plan that would cover full- and part-time workers, noting that low-wage workers — and particularly people of color — are more likely to lack access to sick leave. The group cited one study that found that 41 percent of employed Minneapolis residents do not have sick leave.
Danny Schwartzman, a member of the Partnership Group and owner of Common Roots Cafe and Catering, said he’s pleased that the final product shows the work of compromise. “There was a lot more deliberation behind the scenes than it may look like,” he said.
The proposal posted Wednesday provides the first details of how a sick-leave ordinance would be enforced in Minneapolis. According to documents prepared for a council presentation, businesses would be required to post notices about workers’ right to sick leave, track employees’ hours, maintain records for three years and provide the city’s Civil Rights Department with access to those records. That department would be responsible for investigating potential violations of the ordinance and enforcing the rules.
A first violation in the ordinance’s first year would get an employer a warning notice, while a second would result in a hearings process with the city. The city could eventually order the employer to compensate workers, and pay extra penalties for retaliation or sharing workers’ confidential health information.
The report prepared for Thursday’s council meeting addresses potential concerns from employers about the impact of the ordinance on their businesses and the broader local economy. It points to studies in other cities that have passed sick-leave policies: “While many jurisdictions have not had time or resources to evaluate the impact of their sick leave policies, preliminary studies indicate that the effect on local economies and job growth is minimal.”
Sick-leave policies have been passed in 23 U.S. cities, five states and one county. The city of St. Paul is currently considering its own sick-leave ordinance.