Saint Paul is now home to the strongest paid sick days law in the country.
After months of council meetings, press conferences, social media activity and leadership engagement to raise public awareness, St. Paul members of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota built on the successes of the Minneapolis campaign and ensured a policy was passed that is in the best interest of their businesses.
The Saint Paul City Council voted unanimously 7-0 to pass what many suggest is now the strongest earned sick and safe time ordinance in the country, one that ensures all employees in the city have access to paid sick time. The ordinance will take effect July 1, 2017.
“We are proud to support a strong, fair sick time ordinance as a basic floor for employees throughout the city”, said Shannon Forney, owner of Workhorse Coffee. “The benefits to providing sick time outweigh the costs a hundred fold. If we, a scrappy small business, not supported by capital investments, can do it, certainly other businesses can too”.
The vote came after a year-long campaign to win paid sick days for the 42% of employees in Saint Paul who did not have access to paid sick time. Dozens of small business owners took on leadership roles in the community and participated in roundtable discussions, forums, rallies and meetings with their council members to make Earned Sick and Safe Time a reality for every working family in Saint Paul.
The Main Street Alliance created a map marking more than 55 small businesses in St. Paul that pledged their support for the ordinance and took on leadership roles in their community, advocating on their own behalf to better the lives of their employees and customers while boosting their bottom lines.
Matt Zanetti, the owner of Lake Monster Brewing, shared his perspective as a both a parent and a business owner. “Allowing employees to earn paid sick days is a simple way to attract and retain the best staff members," said Zanetti. "I applaud the Council for passing an ordinance that puts me as the employer in the best position to meet the needs of my team and allows employees across the city to care for themselves and their families without lost income."
The ordinance closely follows the recommendations of the Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force, appointed by the mayor and City Council in February to develop recommendations for a sick time ordinance and consisting of a broad representation of stakeholders including employees, business owners, and community leaders.
Consistent with the Task Force’s recommendations, all employees in Saint Paul will have access to Earned Sick and Safe Time. Staff members will accrue one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Their paid time may be used to cover a wide-range of events including; time to care for themselves or a loved one through an illness or in the event of domestic, sexual violence or stalking or in the event of a school closure.
As proposed by the Task Force’s recommendations, the ordinance will be enforced through fines and a private right of action, the right of employees to sue their employers, if they face retaliation for taking their paid sick time.
Taking a short break to celebrate and relish in their success, St. Paul members will soon set their sights on statewide legislation, ensuring all businesses and employees in the North Star State can benefit from a minimum standard of earned paid sick leave.