St. Paul, Minn., Council Gives City Nation’s Strongest Earned Sick Time Ordinance

ST. PAUL, Minn.–Members of the St. Paul City Council have voted 7-0 to pass an ordinance hailed by working people, small business owners, clergy members and other advocates as the strongest earned sick and safe time law on the books nationwide.

After its passage on Sept. 8, Mayor Chris Coleman immediately indicated he would support the ordinance, making St. Paul the 35th U.S. location to pass sick-pay legislation.

“We are experiencing tremendous momentum as a city,” Coleman said in a statement. “We need to do everything we can to ensure even the most vulnerable among us are experiencing that same momentum. This ordinance brings us one step closer to doing so, and I support it for that reason.”

Set to take effect July 1, 2017, the ordinance will extend earned safe and sick time benefits to an estimated 72,000 working people in St. Paul. Unlike ordinances in Minneapolis and elsewhere, St. Paul will require all employers regardless of size to provide one hour of sick time per 30 hours an employee works, with sick-time earnings capped at 48 hours per year.

Employees will begin accruing sick time after working 80 hours, and they become eligible to use the benefit after 90 calendar days of employment.

Supporters like Nuurto Mohamed, a janitor for 3M in St. Paul, said the new ordinance will give healthier choices to working families like hers.

“I am so excited that we won paid sick days for families like mine in St. Paul,” Mohamed said. “We work hard, and having more paid sick days will mean we no longer have to choose between our health and our paycheck when someone in our family is sick.”

The ordinance also gives employees the right to sue if they face retaliation for using their paid sick time. Michelle Parker, a member of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change who works at Papa John’s in St. Paul, welcomed the enforcement. “When I have to call in sick, my employer cuts my hours for the next week,” she said. “My family needs this safeguard.”

The ordinance closely follows the recommendations of a task force established earlier this year by Mayor Coleman and council members to study the issue. It included labor, faith and community leaders, as well as representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and small business owners.

“The benefits to providing sick time outweigh the costs a hundred fold,” said Workhorse Coffee’s Shannon Forney, one of more than 50 business owners citywide to back the ordinance publicly. “If we, a scrappy small business not supported by capital investments, can do it, certainly other businesses can too.”

Supporters celebrated the vote as the culmination of a yearlong campaign that included congregational meetings, forums, door-knocks, phone banks, strikes, rallies and meetings with elected officials. “This vote is a big step toward improving the quality of life for all working people in St. Paul,” said Bobby Kasper, a task force member and president of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation. “We’re grateful to the elected officials who showed courage on earned sick and safe time, and proud to be part of a coalition of community groups that, by working together, made history today.”

Source: PAI