As Earned Sick & Safe Time Moves Forward in St Paul, Local Business Owners Lend Their Support


Steve Garfield at his shop, Noll Hardware, in St. Paul


Small businesses in St. Paul applauded the City Wednesday for their work to appoint a balanced task force to help determine the earned sick day ordinance in St Paul.  They called for a simple, common sense approach that is easy to understand, implement and has strong enforcement.


The businesses stated that there should be cohesive policy between Minneapolis and St. Paul that sets a baseline standard and protects workers.  


“In fact, this should be a state law, so that all Minnesota workers have the same protections,” said Dan Ogiba, owner of five Toppers Pizzas locations in Minneapolis and St Paul.


Businesses also called for a flexible policy so that companies who currently provided benefits are determined in compliance with the law, as long as they give the same amount of time required by the law for sick day purposes.


“Our full-time staff have PTO, but we plan to expand that to ensure that all of our employees- both full and part time- can take off a day when they are ill,” says Michelle Nordhougen, Human Resource Director, Brasa Rotisserie & Restaurant Alma, St Paul and Minneapolis. “This is about the respect and dignity that all deserve, to thrive in both their professional and personal environments.”  

Others highlighted how both businesses and their employees stand to gain from an Earned Sick and Safe Time policy.


“There are benefits to an ordinance like this for everyone, from owners to employees to our customers,” said Steve Garfield, owner of Noll Hardware in St Paul.  “When workers can stay home when they are sick, you can keep the rest of your staff, as well as customers, healthy and happy.”


The Main Street Alliance recently released a report, The Bottom Line on Earned Sick Time: A Cost / Benefit Analysis of Earned Sick Days on the Economy which reviews implementation studies in five of the twenty-six jurisdictions that have passed similar legislation.


Samson Zeleke, the owner of Samson Custom Upholstery in St Paul, said it simply was the right thing to do. “As a parent, I know how hard it is when your kid is sick, having to choose between working and taking care of your child.”  Samson, who has one employee and, is supportive of a city-wide ordinance that includes all business sizes and industries.


The Earned Sick and Safe Time task force is scheduled to met six times between March 8th and May 17th, and will make recommendations to the Saint Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) Commission, who will, in turn, make recommendations to the City Council and Mayor.