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Momentum in Minnesota: 68,300 Workers in St. Paul Will Gain Paid Sick Days

Christine Sloane | September 13, 2016

The St. Paul City Council unanimously approved a paid sick days ordinance on September 7. When fully implemented, the law will guarantee approximately 68,300 additional private sector workers in the city the right to earn paid sick time. The victory adds to growing paid sick days momentum in Minnesota, following the passage of a similar measure in Minneapolis earlier this year and the tireless work of advocates.

Of the victory, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, who commissioned the task force that helped craft the ordinance, said: “As a descendent of Irish immigrants who worked hard and played by the rules, I have always felt compelled to advance policies that improve the lives of working people. Passing an earned sick and safe time policy that extends the benefit so many of us already enjoy to the most vulnerable among us is the right thing to do.”

The ordinance will take effect on July 1, 2017. Eligible workers employed by private sector businesses with 24 or more employees will accrue one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours per year. Accrual for those who work for employers with 23 or fewer employees will begin on January 1, 2018. The measure will enable workers to use their earned time to tend to their own health needs or the health needs of a family member, or to seek help in instances of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.

This victory in St. Paul is a testament to the hard work of a strong coalition of workers and advocates in the state, which includes TakeAction Minnesota, the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota and Isaiah. It is also the second paid sick days win for the coalition and workers in the state this year. The Minneapolis City Council approved a paid sick days ordinance in May, and advocates now have their sights set on making Duluth next.

These new laws in Minnesota, as well as in Berkeley, Calif., late last month and in Morristown, N.J., today, will make a big difference for workers and families while adding to the growing body of evidence that shows the widespread benefits of paid sick days for businesses and the economy. Still, access to this critical protection should not be limited to workers who have won the “boss lottery” or who work in the now 36 jurisdictions that have, or will soon have, paid sick days laws in place.

Following the vote in St. Paul, Mayor Coleman said, “At the end of the day, the important thing is for there to be a statewide policy… This should be a nationwide policy.” We couldn’t agree more. As local and state victories continue, so must the work to pass the federal proposal for paid sick days, known as the Healthy Families Act. To learn more about how you can help, contact Christine Sloane.

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