Duluth, Minnesota, the Next City to Pass Paid Sick Leave Laws?

Duluth looks at mandatory sick leave law
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Duluth Sick Leave Task Force Collects Opinion on Sick Leave

A flurry of sick leave and minimum wage laws took effect effect in 2017, but no new sick leave laws have taken hold. Maryland’s sick leave bill was vetoed by Governor Hogan. In Minnesota, St Paul and Minneapolis both passed sick leave laws that went into force on July 1, 2017. Now it appears that Duluth may be the next city to follow suit. For nearly the last year, Duluth has convened a City Council Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force to study public view on sick leave laws and to collect input from residents and businesses alike. The council has meet twice a month and met for the last time on July 27, 2017.

Now the council is working on a city wide plan that will be presented to the Duluth City Council and will be voted on in the fall.

Sick Leave Reduces Employer Flexibility

But not all employees are in favor with a one size fits all and most businesses worry about what a plan would look like and cost to administer.

Brian Daugherty, the president of Grandma’s Restaurant, fears that a uniform sick leave policy would require him to take away other benefits his employees prefer more. One of those benefits is a free meal every shift. Daugherty wants the flexibility to offer the benefits that most attract his employee demographic, which is a very young demographic. Over 2/3rds of his employees are under the age of 24.

Ted Chura, a former employee of a manufacturing plant, agrees with the sentiment that businesses should be able to customize employee benefits. He explained why he opposed a uniform sick leave law.

At the manufacturing plan the union employees negotiated one sick leave day each month. Unused days rolled into future years for use. Non union employees did not receive the same benefit.

However, when they took days off, they were still paid. Some employees took many days, some took few days. One employee was severely ill and took 30 sick leave days in one year. On average non-union employees took less than 1 day a month in sick leave, but all had access to as much sick leave and flexibility as they needed. Chura explains that a uniform sick leave policy would erase that type of flexibility and not allow workers to use sick time as needed and when needed most.

Sick Leave Costs to Small Business

He’s right. Under nearly every sick leave law passed since the first one passed in 2007 in San Francisco, a flexible policy like Chura describes would not qualify as providing sick leave to employees.

Additionally, business owners, particularly small business owners are worried about the costs, and its effect on jobs. Paid sick leave not only costs the direct cost of paid wages without production, something most business owners don’t object to. In fact, most of Duluth’s workers already receive sick leave benefits.

Instead, sick leave laws have a massive administrative and regulatory cost associated to those policies. This can be a particularly heavy burden for small business. Employers must track employee schedules, time worked, sick leave accrued, awarded and other records requirements. This takes time away from other productive tasks, like acquiring new customers, or better training employees. Often it means hiring legal counsel to ensure full understanding of the new laws and to update employee handbooks. All of the extra time and energy translates into additional opportunity cost and revenue lost from revenue generating activities. Small businesses, unlike large corporations, typically require that key individuals wear many hats and perform in many job roles. The owner may be the HR manager, key sales manager and trainer. That’s one of the reasons sick leave laws can so adversely impact small business.

In addition, nearly all sick leave law takes the view that the employer is assumed to be guilty and places the burden of proof on the employer. Even when employers complied with the law, but missed a key part of record keeping, that employer is subject to costly fines, penalties, and recompense.

Those are some of the same reasons why the effects of a similar law in Maryland was studied. The study estimated a loss of 13,000 jobs over 10 years as a direct result of the new law. In San Francisco, hundreds of restaurants have closed and the rate of new restaurants opening has drastically dropped after implementing sick leave, secure scheduling and minimum wage laws, all of which add drastic costs to small business.

Let SwipeClock Help

Fortunately for small businesses, SwipeClock helps to erase the burdens imposed by sick leave laws to small businesses. Human Resource Management Systems ensure compliance for businesses.

These businesses who have employees in St Paul, Minneapolis, or Duluth have to comply with multiple conflicting City ordinances defining Sick leave accrual and usage laws.

Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.

Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.


Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force Website

Duluth News Tribune Opinion by Ted Chura

MPR News

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on August 1, 2017

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