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Minneapolis City Council Votes For Paid Sick Leave Ordinance

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –The Minneapolis City councilors unanimously voted in favor for paid sick time for workers Friday morning.

After the vote was announced, the chambers erupted in cheers. Advocates gathered together after the vote to celebrate.

"This is a policy that's [going to] allow people to keep their homes, to be able to feed their children; it's deeper than just being like able to take a sick day. This isn't about numbers. It's not about policies. It's about people, and I felt like Minneapolis City Council got back to being about people today. That was so beautiful," Rod Adams, a member of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, said.

Prior to the vote, four out of 10 workers don't have that benefit.

The paid sick time proposal would apply to businesses with six workers or more, giving them 48 hours, or about six days, of sick pay a year. They can use it for illnesses, mental health or caring for a sick family member. Benefits would begin 90 days after someone is hired.

The ordinance lets employees carry 80 hours of accrued sick time into the next year.

The city will require businesses to keep employee records for three years to make sure they are in compliance with the ordinance.

This proposed ordinance, which is part of Mayor Betsy Hodges Working Families Agenda, has drawn a lot of controversy over the past several months.  

Those in favor of the ordinance say it will allow for workers to not have to work when they are sick.

Mayor Betsy Hodges released a statement thanking the City Council for passing the ordinance.

"Today, Minneapolis has recognized that no one should have to choose between being healthy and being paid. This is a landmark day for Minneapolis," the statement said in part.

Rep. Keith Ellison also voiced his support for the decision.

"This is a huge win for our community," Ellison said. "The paid leave rule will help make sure working Minneapolitans never have to choose between getting healthy, and getting paid.

"For far too long working parents have had to choose between caring for their children and going to work. For too long workers have had to choose whether to risk the public's health by going to work sick, or risk their family's livelihood. This is a big step in making sure they won't have to."

Those opposed said it will end up costing their businesses more money and possibly cause them to close.

The Minneapolis Downtown Council president released a statement after the announcement saying, in part, that they are still concerned about the cost to businesses.

"It is especially unfortunate that the adopted ordinance will disrupt administration of existing time-off plans which provide superior benefits to workers. Despite their good intentions, our elected officials do not know better than the thousands of businesses which have developed policies and practices that work well for them and the people they employ. We take Mayor Hodges and Council Members at their word that this is an unintended consequence which will be remedied prior to these new mandates going into effect," President and CEO Steve Cramer and Interim President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, John Stanoch, said in the statement.

Dave Amundson, an owner of a small construction firm, said he believes this shouldn't be a city decision but rather a state decision.

"This is unnerving to me," he said.

Amundson went on to say that he essentially already follows these guidelines but now there will be an extra layer of having to document everything.

If employers don't comply they could have to pay a $1,500 penalty, plus other fees.

Minneapolis is the first city in the Midwest to approve paid sick leave for all workers. The ordinance will go into effect July 1 of next year. It will also apply to part-time workers.

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