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House passes paid sick and safe time mandate

House Photography file photo
House Photography file photo

The House has passed legislation that would require employers to provide workers with at least one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked.

HF7, sponsored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), would give employees at least 48 hours of sick and safe time each year at their regular rates of pay.

On Thursday, the bill was passed 69-63 by the House. It now moves to the Senate where it is sponsored by Sen. Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul).

"Ultimately, House File 7 is about becoming the kind of caring state that I think all Minnesotans want us to be," Olson said.

An estimated 932,000 Minnesota workers do not have access to paid sick and safe time, according to Olson. In some circumstances, it is still legal for workers to be fired for needing to take time off for sick or safe needs, she added.

Three Minnesota cities — Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth — have paid sick time policies.

State reports have found that people with paid sick leave use less sick time and health care, and their children are likely to do better in school. They are also more likely to schedule and attend preventative health care appointments and recover faster from illness.

"This legislation will allow more people to not have to choose between work and caring for their loved ones," said Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL-Minnetonka).

Under the bill, employees could take time off to recuperate from an illness, care for an ill family member, attend an appointment, seek support after a sexual assault and watch kids during weather- or emergency-related day care closures.

It could be used 90 days after starting a job and be carried over year to year. Employers could not make employees find replacement workers or retaliate against them for taking time off.

Employers would not be prevented from providing additional paid time off or paid vacation and would not be required to pay out accrued sick and safe time when an employee leaves a job.

Republicans said a mandate should not be added to businesses during a pandemic and that businesses already take steps to care for employees.

"There's so many groups that have no way to pay for this," said Rep. Jim Nash (R-Waconia).

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