St. Paul will explore making earned sick and safe time mandatory

St. Paul leaders want to explore mandatory earned sick and safe time for all employees in the city.

Under a City Council resolution to be released Thursday, a task force will explore how businesses of all sizes in St. Paul could offer earned sick and safe time benefits to their employees.

The council and Mayor Chris Coleman are pushing for accrued paid leave to be a requirement of employers to reduce the number of people spreading illness at work. They say such policies will help people of color in particular.

"Those who don't have the benefit of earned sick and safe time are concentrated in low-paid occupations and are disproportionately Hispanic, African American, American Indian, Asian and other workers of color," the resolution says.

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Minneapolis leaders considered requiring paid sick leave for all workers in the city late last year, but it was met with dissent from business leaders.

The proposed St. Paul task force will essentially work through the minutiae of how such a requirement could be implemented across the city, considering its scope, enforcement and other details. A city commission plans to ask representatives of business, labor groups and individual workers to serve on the task force.

Under the resolution, the task force would present its recommendation by May 17 with the intention of implementing an ordinance next year.

The City Council may take up the resolution Feb. 3.

Already more city employees will have access to earned sick leave. On Tuesday, the city announced it would extend earned sick and safe time to part-time city employees who don't already have those benefits by 2017. That move will give earned leave time to more than 1,000 temporary city employees and 700 interns in St. Paul's Right Track program.

Safe time, which is defined in a 2015 state law, allows an employee to use sick leave benefits for assistance in dealing with sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking. The time can also be used to help a family member.

The City Council's proposed resolution notes that St. Paul receives about 8,500 911 calls related to domestic violence each year.

Under the Minnesota law, employees with sick time are entitled to use that time for safety leave.