Members of the Minneapolis City Council and Workplace Regulations Partnership celebrate progress on paid sick time
Rosie wakes early to make it to work at the Lake Street McDonald’s on time - she catches the bus at 4:15 a.m. to make it fifteen minutes early for her 5:00 a.m. breakfast shift. When her shift is over she goes straight to her night job as a janitor and comes home after dark to her three children. In December her youngest child, who goes to childcare at a neighbor’s house, comes home with a sniffle. Pretty soon the whole family, including Rosie, was sick. Rosie needed to stay home to heal herself and care for her children but her budget for the month is tighter than normal - she wouldn’t have been able to make rent and keep food on the table if she missed any shifts at work.
Rosie’s story, her heart wrenching decision between staying home to care for herself and her family or paying her bills, is the reality for many of the 40% of Minneapolis workers who do not currently have access to paid sick time. However, due to a ground-breaking ordinance that I proudly co-authored and that passed the Minneapolis City Council unanimously on May 27, 2016, over the next year all employees working at a business employing at least six people will have access to paid time off, which can be used if they or a family member falls ill. This is an important public health issue as well as a racial equity issue as low-income people, women, and people of color disproportionately lack access to paid sick time.
We were able to pass this policy due to the sustained involvement of hundreds of workers and advocates who engaged with City Hall to share the real life stories of people like Rosie. Workers, business owners, unions, and advocates also came together to form the Workplace Regulations Partnership, which brought workers and the business community together to develop the final policy and make it effective for workers and businesses alike.
In workplaces with six or more employees, workers will earn one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, topping out at 48 hours of accrual each year. Workers could rollover unused sick leave from one year to the next until they accumulate 80 hours. There will be an extended implementation period and a lot of education and community outreach to ensure that the small businesses that bring so much vitality to our communities are fully aware of the expectations and onboard before the July 1, 2017 start date.
On the heels of this victory, I look forward to advancing other aspects of the workers’ rights agenda including addressing wage theft and raising the minimum wage.