Too sick to go to work. Too in need of a paycheck not to. Millions of Americans face this dilemma.
Locally, however, the well-being of workers is improving. The Minneapolis City Council recently unanimously passed an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees. That means sick time is no longer a nice-to-get benefit – it’s a legal right.
Under the ordinance, an employee will be able to earn one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked, and will allow the employee to carry over a maximum of 80 hours of sick time from year to year. This ordinance applies to Minneapolis businesses with six or more employees and to employees who work at least 80 hours per year. The ordinance goes into effect July 1, 2017.
Minneapolis is the first city in the Midwest to address the issue. St. Paul and Duluth are considering passing similar ordinances. Around the country, 4 states and 23 other cities already have sick-leave requirements.
The benefits of such ordinances extend beyond the individual. Businesses gain, too – including through total cost savings. Because paid sick time encourages – and makes it affordable for – people who are sick to stay home, the spread of illness is reduced. Paid sick time also boosts morale and increases overall staff retention.
Beyond the city ordinance in Minneapolis, Minnesota employees have additional leave-related protections under state statutes. For example, if an employer already provides sick leave, an employee can use that sick leave to care for a child or close relative, and the employer is prohibited from retaliating against the employee for doing so.
Additionally, under the Women’s Economic Security Act, an employee may use sick leave for “safety leave,” which allows an employee to seek assistance needed as a result of sexual assault, domestic abuse, or stalking.
Hopefully, Minneapolis will be seen as a leader for other cities in the Midwest as employees and employers alike understand the inherent benefits of paid sick leave.