New St. Paul Ordinance Guarantees Paid Sick and Safe Time Leave for Employees
On September 7, 2016, the St. Paul City Council unanimously approved an ordinance guaranteeing paid earned sick and safe time for employees working within the city of St. Paul. The new ordinance will take effect July 1, 2017 for employers with 24 or more employees and January 1, 2018 for employers with 23 or fewer employees.
The Minneapolis City Council has recently enacted a similar ordinance with an effective date of July 1, 2017. For employers with employees working within Minneapolis city limits, please review our article on that ordinance here.
Which Employers Are Impacted?
- The ordinance applies to all employers who employ at least one individual, with at least one employee working within the city limits of St. Paul for at least 80 hours in a year. This applies even if the employer is located outside the city of St. Paul.
- New employers established between the ordinance’s effective date and January 1, 2023, will be given a six-month grace period in which they may provide unpaid sick and safe time rather than paid sick and safe time.
- A staffing agency is considered an employer under the ordinance absent a contractual agreement stating otherwise.
Which Employees Are Impacted?
- The ordinance applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary employees who work at least 80 hours per year within the city limits of St. Paul.
- Construction-industry workers who are paid “the prevailing wage rate” for all hours worked regardless of working on public or private projects are not considered employees under the ordinance.
- Construction apprentices who are registered with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and are paid in accordance with prevailing apprentice wages are not considered employees under the ordinance.
- The ordinance does not consider independent contractors employees.
- Both hourly and salaried employees are eligible for earned sick and safe time.
Areas of New Leave Time Ordinance That Deserve Attention
- Employers are required to provide employees with one hour of sick and safe time leave for every 30 hours of work in the city of St. Paul. Employees may earn up to 48 hours of paid sick leave each year.
- Employers are not required to allow employees to hold more than 80 hours of paid leave at any given time.
- Although employees begin earning paid sick leave at the beginning of their employment, employers can disallow use of accrued days until employees have worked for the employer for a total of 90 days.
- The St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity is charged with enforcing this ordinance and retains all authority to investigate any relevant claims made against employers.
- Employers are required to comply with ordinance-specific recordkeeping, including employees’ accrual of sick and safe time leave. This includes a mandated three-year retention period for all relevant records.
- Employers are required to disclose information related to employee rights and remedies dictated by this ordinance in any handbooks distributed to employees.
- An employer may not require an employee to find a replacement worker to cover the hours he or she takes for sick and safe time.
Key Distinctions Between the St. Paul and Minneapolis Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinances
- Employers located in the city of St. Paul with 24 or more employees are subject to an effective date of July 1, 2017, while employers with 23 or fewer employees are subject to a delayed effective date of January 1, 2018. All employers located in the city limits of Minneapolis are subject to an effective date of July 1, 2017 without distinction as to the number of employees.
- Under the St. Paul ordinance, staffing agencies are responsible for providing sick and safe time for any temporary employees absent a contractual agreement stating otherwise. No such provision is provided in the Minneapolis ordinance.
- The Minneapolis ordinance does not require employers with five or fewer employees to provide paid sick and safe time. The St. Paul ordinance requires all employers to provide all employees working within city limits with paid sick and safe time.
- The Minneapolis ordinance affords employers and union-represented workers the opportunity to develop, through the collective bargaining process, “alternative means of meeting the policy goals underlying the paid leave requirements established by [the Minneapolis] ordinance.” The St. Paul ordinance provides no such alternative option for compliance.
All affected employers are encouraged to review their existing paid time off and sick leave policies for employees working in the city of St. Paul in light of these sweeping changes that will become effective in 2017 and 2018.