The sick and safe time ordinance under consideration in St. Paul has received considerably less attention than the recently enacted Minneapolis version. The benefit accrual amounts are the same in both cities with 1 hour for every 30 hours worked. But, the pending ordinance in St. Paul seems to be considerably stricter than its Minneapolis counterpart. Here are three important ways that the St. Paul ordinance will have greater impact to companies with employees working at least 80 hours in the Capital City:
1. No Small Business Exemption
The Minneapolis version of the sick time rule makes participation voluntary for companies with 6 or fewer employees covered by the ordinance. This is not the case in St. Paul. In fact, the ordinance mandates participation by all employers regardless of size that have “a sufficient nexus to the City of St. Paul.” What types of employees will be entitled to the benefit under the ordinance?
- Any individual working at least 80 hours in the City of St. Paul
- Includes Casual Employees (originally removed from the MSP version)
- Employees of family owned business are treated the same as others
- Excludes independent contractors
The St. Paul ordinance does include a six month extension for covered employers with less than 24 employees. Regardless, these companies will have to offer the benefit and be in full compliance by the extended deadline.
2. Creates a Private Cause of Action
The St. Paul version of this ordinance creates a private cause of action. For better or worse, the St. Paul ordinance seems to skip over the administrative process put in place in the Minneapolis version. This means that employees may jump right to the courts if they believe they were harmed by an out of compliance employer. The employee will also have the right to collect attorneys fees if they prevail in their claim.
This means that companies should start thinking about how they will get in compliance with the ordinance by the effective date. Compliance may seem expensive, but it is necessary to better position the organization for the invariable wave of litigation.
3. Banking Creates Greater Benefit
The St. Paul ordinance allows employees to “bank” up to 80 hours. The ordinance requires a maximum of 48 hours annually like in the Minneapolis version. However, the St. Paul benefit permits employees to carry these hours over to the next year and continue to accrue hours. How does this impact companies with employees in St. Paul?
- The clock for accrual restarts in the new year and employees are entitled to continue earning the time off–even if they did not use any of the benefits in the past year.
- There is no deadline to use the benefit once it is “banked.”
- Employees with St. Paul mandated benefits will need to have that time excluded from any existing “use it or lose it” policy.
- Employers should carefully monitor and provide clear notices to employees with “banked” time. Technically, those individuals with the maximum of 80 banked hours cannot begin earning additional hours until some in the bank have been used.
Bottom line: there are important practical differences between the Minneapolis and St. Paul sick and safe time ordinances. Employers with covered employees should start thinking about how this will impact their organization. Additional action to get in compliance by the effective dates will be necessary for every business – even companies with more generous benefits than what is required by the ordinance.
The attorneys at Loop Legal can help companies with employees working in St. Paul and Minneapolis begin this compliance process. Send an email to to learn more or to schedule a free consultation. Click here if you would like to read a copy of the draft ordinance in St. Paul.