Packed Council Chambers Discusses Paid Sick And Safe Time

Task Force Gives Two Recommendations To City Council

DULUTH, Minn- The Earned Sick and Safe Time Task Force recommended the Duluth City Council adopt an ordinance that would provide two alternatives for businesses to give paid time off to workers who don’t currently get any.

In a survey conducted by the task force, data shows that 46% of workers within the Duluth currently aren’t getting any sick and safe time. 1 in 6 full time employees who make less than $35,000 annually have no access to sick time. These are statistics the task force hopes to change.

“The reality is the people on the lowest income earning brackets are the people that don’t have access. So really it gives them a move of economic stability to be able to just be healthy,” said Shawnu Ksicinski, Program Manager, Duluth Take Action.

While uncertain of the impact the ordinance would have on area businesses. Some on the task force believe adopting the ordinance may put a bigger burden on the city’s finances.

“Looking at a 2.1 million dollar deficit. The slashing of 20 positions from the city. A 4% levy increase and plus we’re looking at a .5% sales tax on top of that to pay for our crumbling infrastructure. I don’t believe that the city has room in their finances to fund an ordinance such as this,” said Chad Ronchetti, Member of ESST Task Force.

The ordinance would include two options.

1: workers would earn safe and sick time upon being hired or 30 days afterward. Earning it at a rate of at least one hour for every 30 hours worked.

2: requiring employers to have a written policy about earned sick time at a rate of three days annually.

The council heard the two options for the first time and a final decision doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon.

“It’s very important to me that we not rush this decision. That we take the time that if we move forward with an ordinance that we do it in a thoughtful way that will lead us to good public policy,” said Joel Sipress, Duluth City Council President.

Sipress said that the council would be in no rush to try and get something adopted before the New Year.

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