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St. Paul to look into paid sick leave rule for all businesses

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St. Paul is following the lead of Minneapolis by taking a look at whether it should enact rules requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for its workers.

In an announcement Tuesday, Mayor Chris Coleman revealed plans to extend earned sick and safe time for city employees, but at the same time decided to "kick off a public conversation" by creating a task force looking into a policy for all St. Paul employers.

Last year Minneapolis discussed a similar proposal, one which proved controversial among business owners, but this was shelved and will be taken up again later this year.

City Council member Chris Tolbert said ensuring workers don't feel obliged to work when they're ill is a matter of public health.

"The workers who do not have access to earned sick and safe time work in professions where they interact with more people on a daily basis than a politician can hope to reach in a month," he said. "This is a huge public health concern when the people who are making your burrito or bagging your groceries are sick at work."

The Business Journal reports Coleman explained his plans at an annual breakfast for the Minneapolis and St. Paul chambers of commerce, saying he has reached out to business representatives to ensure they are closely involved in conversations going forward.

But already there has been some concerns raised by businesses, with St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce President Matt Kramer telling the Star Tribune that paid sick leave could create problems for smaller employers and big companies with significant numbers of part-time workers – such as the Minnesota Wild.

But he praised the Mayor for being open about his intentions and is involving businesses in the discussions, saying: "Whatever reservations we may have are somewhat mitigated by the open process."

What about Minneapolis?

Also in attendance at the breakfast was Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, whose Working Families Agenda was widely opposed by businesses last year.

With the city due to come up with altered plans for paid sick leave in the coming months, she assured business leaders their concerns had been heard, the Business Journal notes.

According to MinnPost, a task force of Minneapolis employers, unions, workers and trade associations are involved in a new task force coming up with new plans for paid sick leave, with the council due to consider it in spring.

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