The task force that will help shape an earned sick and safe leave policy in St. Paul will be made up of a diverse group of 26 community members. 

The City Council voted Wednesday to approve a list of task force participants that includes restauranteurs, local business owners, labor representatives, a human resources director, the Chamber of Commerce president and advocates from nonprofits. 

The group will start meeting March 8, and will work through issues related to a paid sick and safe leave policy for businesses citywide.

Council President Russ Stark lauded the group city officials created, which he is said is a good cross-section of the community.

"It's very diverse," Council Member Chris Tolbert said. "There's going to be a lot of viewpoints."

Paid sick leave -- and safe leave, which would be available to people who are victims of domestic violence and stalking -- is a nuanced topic, Tolbert said, but he is hopeful that the group the city assembled would be able to work through various issues.

Council Member Rebecca Noecker said she was excited to see that about 60 people applied to serve on the task force. 

The issue has drawn a lot of interest. At recent community listening sessions on the issue, some people supported requiring businesses to allow people to accrue time off for when they are ill.

However, many small business owners who attended the sessions were concerned about what a mandate from the city could cost their business. Several said they give their employees time off when they need it and do not want an additional layer of government regulation.

The task force, which will talk through these issues, is scheduled to give its recommendations to the city's Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Commission in May. The mayor and City Council will have the final say in whatever policy is developed.