The ability to take job-protected, paid sick leave is something that many people take for granted, given that they work at companies with progressive policies. It is not a benefit that many workers have, though.
We have previously written on this blog about the growing trend of companies improving their paid sick leave offerings. In the current scheme of things, employers are generally only required to abide by federal and state law, which is a fairly low bar to meet, since it doesn’t require employers to offer paid leave. Local governments, however, are free to enact stricter requirements.
That is just what happened last year, when the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul passed ordinances requiring employers within city limits to offer stricter sick leave protections to workers. Both ordinances require job-protected sick leave rights for all employees, and not only full-time employees, but also part-time and temporary employees, provided the employee works at least 80 hours per year within Minneapolis or St. Paul.
The two ordinances are not exactly the same. St. Paul’s measure requires all employers to provide paid sick leave to eligible employees, while Minneapolis’s ordinance only requires paid sick leave when the employer has six or more employees—smaller companies must at least provide unpaid sick leave for all employees.
Both ordinances require employers to extend job-protected leave for employees’ own illnesses, injuries, and medical appointments, in addition to time taken to care for sick family members, care of a child for whom childcare is temporarily unavailable, and to seek assistance for domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking.
Both ordinances are set to go into effect next summer, though smaller employers in St. Paul do not have to come into full compliance until 2018. Both measures are certainly something to be proud of, and employees should be sure to learn their rights under these laws and seek help from experienced legal counsel when difficulties arise.