St. Paul Joins Minneapolis in Passing Paid-Sick Ordinance

AlertBoth cities will require employers to extend paid sick leave, effective July 2017.
By Nicole Faulkner and Kristin Berger Parker

On Wednesday September 7, 2016, St. Paul became the second Minnesota city to enact an ordinance requiring that employers offer workers paid sick leave. Minneapolis passed a similar ordinance in May of this year. Both cities join a growing list of municipalities and states that have enacted paid sick leave laws. The ordinances go into effect for most employers July 1, 2017.

Under these ordinances, many employees who were not previously eligible for paid leave will become eligible for paid time off for purposes including the employee’s own illness, a sick family member, response to domestic assault or stalking, and the employee's need to care for a family member due to an unexpected closure of the family member’s school or place of care.

Key provisions of the two local ordinances are in the table below. In addition, there are a few notable differences in employer coverage and rules regarding whether paid sick time must carry over from year to year.

 Employment Alert Table 9/13

Employers who currently provide PTO or paid sick leave may continue their current policies, so long as they meet or exceed the applicable ordinance's minimum requirements. However, many employers have questions regarding whether their current plans or alternative arrangements meet the requirements, and whether a use-it-or-lose-it leave policy can ever be permitted. 

St. Paul employers can continue to follow a use-it-or-lose it policy, so long as the employer's plan provides employees with available leave hours at the beginning of the year, as follows: In an employee's first year of employment, the employer must (after the first 90 days) front load at least 48 hours of leave time. In each subsequent year the employer must front load at least 80 hours of leave time. 

The Minneapolis ordinance does not answer these questions, but the Minneapolis City Council is expected to address these important employer questions by issuing guidelines for such alternative policy structures. The Council was scheduled to hear recommendations at its August 17, 2016 committee hearing, but the matter was postponed. 

Employers should prepare for these new ordinances by reviewing current tracking and leave policies, as well as ensuring compliance with notice requirements (required postings and handbook provisions), and putting in place appropriate recordkeeping and documentation systems.

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