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RELEASE: Minnesota House passes Earned Sick & Safe Time legislation

Thursday, March 25, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Thursday afternoon, the Minnesota House approved legislation authored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL – Duluth) to extend Earned Sick and Safe Time benefits to all Minnesota workers. The legislation would ensure, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year.

“No one should have to face economic hardship for choosing to stay home if they’re sick or take their child to the doctor, but right now that’s the unfortunate reality for too many workers,” Rep. Olson said. “As we work together to build a better future for Minnesotans following COVID-19, this is one of the most important steps we can take at this pivotal moment in time to strengthen economic security and make sure workers and families can be healthy.”

While Minnesotans have been asked repeatedly to stay home when they’re sick during the COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 900,000 workers – especially those in low-wage positions and those in the service industry – don’t have access to sick days or any other paid time off. Under the bill, Earned Sick and Safe Time could be used for the following purposes:

  • To attend to the worker’s physical and mental health needs, including illness, injury or doctor’s appointment
  • To attend to the physical and mental health needs of a family member (including illness, injury or appointment)
  • Absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking of the worker or a family member
  • If the worker’s job site is closed because of weather or a public emergency, or if a family member’s school is closed
  • If the health authorities have determined that the worker or his/her family needs to stay at home because they could jeopardize the health of others (like a pandemic)

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that Minnesotans need earned sick and safe time,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans — including many essential workers — don’t have access to paid sick time. This is critical both for economic security and to protect public health. House DFLers are committed to delivering solutions for our families.”

“Providing universal access to Earned Sick and Safe Time means healthier workplaces and schools, better support for caregivers, and reduced health care costs,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “Minnesota has the resources to provide economic security for all workers and their families.”

Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth have adopted local ordinances guaranteeing the benefit for workers in those cities. Thirteen states have laws requiring employers to provide paid sick leave for their workers as well as other cities including Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland.

The Republican-controlled Senate has yet to schedule a hearing for the legislation.