Minnesota Joins States Working to Win Paid Sick DaysMarch 6, 2014
by Liz Doyle, TakeAction Minnesota
Minnesota’s Earned Sick & Safe Time bill passed out of the House of Representative’s Labor, Workplace, and Regulated Industries Committee March 5. Chief Author Rep. John Lesch (pictured) argued that Minnesotans without earned sick and safe time are facing an impossible choice: between caring for loved ones or losing a paycheck. After testimony from advocates, opponents, and working moms, like Anne Lott (pictured), the bill cleared its first hurdle on the way to becoming law.
As part of a Women’s Economic Security Agenda, the Earned Sick & Safe Time bill is a key component of an overall effort to improve the lives of women and families in Minnesota. Working in coalition with AARP, the Minnesota Women’s Consortium, the Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota, Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women, Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Gender Justice, TakeAction Minnesota is working to pass a strong bill that would:
- Guarantee employees to earn one hour of paid sick & safe leave for every thirty hours worked
- Provide for broad use of paid leave to care for family illnesses and deal with the consequences of domestic violence
- Allow workers to earn up to nine job-protected sick & safe days each year (five days for small businesses)
- Allow workers to carryover unused earned sick & safe time to the following calendar year
- Make this benefit available to workers after 90 calendar days on the job
- Allow employers to require certification if an employee uses more than three paid sick days in a row
- Recognize employers’ existing policies, as long as they meet the minimum standards.
- Bar retaliation against an employee who requests or uses earned sick time
- Provide remedies for employees denied earned sick time
Anne Lott, a grassroots leader from TakeAction Minnesota testified about the challenges of inadequate sick leave policies: “Making over $14.00 hour I had a good job, except in one way: I didn’t have sick time to care for my kids. I’m a mother of seven who lost my job because my of company’s sick leave policy. I didn’t have the time I needed to balance my obligations at home and work. I know we can do better. The Earned Sick and Safe Time bill is about more than sick days. It’s about job security and family stability. We need to pass this law to help moms like me raise kids like mine. No one else should have to pick between caring for their kids or keeping their job.”
The Earned Sick & Safe Time bill will go next to Civil Law committee where it is expected to pass in the next two weeks.
Editor’s note: Minnesota’s first win on this bill came on the same day that Chicago introduced an earned sick days ordinance with sponsorship from 27 City Council members. Also marching forth on March 5th was New York State, whose assembly overwhelmingly approved a Paid Family Leave Insurance program!