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A paid sick leave requirement is closer to reality in Minneapolis

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A report that may become the basis for Minneapolis' new paid sick leave ordinance was turned over to city council members Wednesday.

The Workplace Regulations Partnership Group – a panel appointed by the mayor and city council – suggests Minneapolis require employers to provide 48 hours per year of paid sick time. Only businesses with fewer than four employees would be exempt. You can read the 48 page report here.

Business owners, workers, and members of non-profit groups helped put together the report, which Finance & Commerce says draws on mandatory sick leave policies in place in nearly two dozen other cities.

Employees who work at least 80 hours a year in Minneapolis (even if their companies are based elsewhere) would be covered by the policy. The report estimates about 120,000 workers would be affected.

Molly Glasgow, a business owner who served on the panel that wrote the report, tells MPR News there's broad support in Minneapolis for paid sick time: "Minneapolis is at a place where we have to make some changes and we need to be able to carry that responsibility equally among workers, among residents, among business owners and among employers," Glasgow says.

Supporters of paid sick time have called it a public health issue, with some arguing that workers in food service or child care are among those likely to report for work when they're ill rather than take unpaid time off to recover.

Dissenting report

Steve Cramer, a former city council member who is now president of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, was the only member of the Partnership Group who objected to its final report strongly enough to write his own dissenting report, which was also presented Wednesday.

As he told WCCO, Cramer is concerned that mandatory sick time will raise the cost of doing business in Minneapolis.

In his report, Cramer argues a cost estimate of the requirement should have been formulated and says only modest public health benefits have been documented in cities that imposed a sick time mandate.

The Business Journal says the proposed policy includes provisions to prevent businesses from retaliating against employees who use sick time.

The sick leave policy is on the city council agenda for Friday's meeting, but WCCO says it's not clear when a vote might be held.

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