Minnesota House passes bill to expand sick and safe time

(KSTP) – Members of the full Minnesota House have passed a bill requiring employers to provide paid sick time.

The vote came after hours of debate on Thursday.

The proposal passed by a vote of 69-54 and guarantees employees at least one hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked. Workers can earn up to 48 hours per year and have 80 hours of unused time carried over into the following year.

The time can be used for physical or mental illness, as well as taking time to care for a family member, or if a family member’s school is closed.

“Yesterday, I got a call from my 4-year-old’s day care that I needed to come pick up my daughter. So I drove over there and picked her up because I was lucky enough to have a job that I have some flexibility,” said Rep. Jamie Long (DFL-Minneapolis), the House majority leader.

Some Republicans oppose the bill, saying it could hurt job creation and that it’s too much of a one-size-fits-all approach.

“The large corporations may, may be able to absorb the cost and compliance burden. They might already have the extra HR department,” House Minority Leader Rep. Lisa Demuth (R-Cold Spring) said. “Those things that are needed to make this type of a bill work. But our smaller businesses could end up losing 25-50% of their already-thin margins just to comply with this.”

“There are hundreds of thousands of Minnesota workers who can’t do what I did. They have to make impossible choices about caring for their kids or potentially risking losing their job,” Long added.

The companion bill in the Senate has already cleared three committees. If the full Senate passes it, it will then head to the governor’s desk.

Representative Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth) and House Speaker Melissa Hortman were joined by Nancy Florence, a nurse from Plymouth, and Heather Flatgard, owner of Excelsior & Grand Chiropractic, earlier Thursday afternoon to discuss the bill.

This story first appeared on KSTP-TV.