A group representing some small Minneapolis businesses is urging the city to follow the lead of other communities with citywide sick-leave policies as it tries to come up with an ordinance of its own.
The Main Street Alliance of Minnesota said Tuesday that it backs a standardized policy that would allow all workers to be able to earn the same number of paid sick days, regardless of the size of business — and that Minneapolis shouldn’t have to drag out the process of crafting a policy.
The issue is being considered by the Workplace Regulations Partnership, a 19-member panel of workers, business owners, and representatives from business and labor groups. The group was formed in late 2015 following debates over scheduling, wage theft and sick-leave reforms proposed in Mayor Betsy Hodges’ Working Families Agenda. City Council members directed the panel to come back with a recommendation by late February.
Corinne Horowitz, state director for the Main Street Alliance, said that the partnership and city officials should take input from a variety of individuals and groups, but that it would be wise to duplicate elements of sick-leave policies already on the books in 21 U.S. cities, four states and one county.
“We don’t need to overcomplicate it by throwing everything out there,” she said. “Look at what’s been done across the country, look at the economic impact and enact a policy that works.”
The Workplace Regulations Partnership has held two formal business meetings. It initially scheduled six listening sessions targeted to specific types of businesses and workers, along with two more general listening sessions. At its meeting Monday, the partnership agreed to add four more “culturally specific” listening sessions for African-American, East African, Southeast Asian, and American Indian workers and businesses.
Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said the partnership’s work is on track, though the group plans to assess its progress at the end of the month. She said members are working to determine the parameters of a Minneapolis policy, such as which employers would be included.
The initial proposal offered by the mayor and some council members would have allowed all employees working in the city to earn up to 40 or 72 hours of paid sick leave each year, depending on the size of the business.
Horowitz said her group would rather see the city grant all employees the same opportunity to earn sick-leave hours. The Main Street Alliance also does not support the payout of unused sick time or letting employees move earned sick-leave hours from employer to employer. Both of those issues were raised by concerned business owners during early discussions over the city’s Working Families Agenda.
Dan Swenson-Klatt, owner of Butter Bakery Cafe in Minneapolis, said he provides sick leave to his 20 employees, who used a total of five sick days in the past six months.
“Turnover costs for restaurants are kind of high and we want to invest in people,” he said. “It gets me a big return when people stay longer and they’re happy.”