Thursday, October 15, 2015

Minneapolis Drops Predictability Pay Proposal, Continues Push for Paid Sick Leave

The Star Tribune reported today that the Minneapolis mayor and city council have, at least for now, tabled a controversial proposal to require businesses to adopt predictable scheduling practices or face monetary penalties. As discussed in last week’s post, the City’s earlier proposal would have penalized Minneapolis-based employers for failing to give substantial advance notice of work schedules or changing schedules on short notice. The proposal faced significant opposition from Minneapolis businesses and even some of the workers that the proposal was intended to help (see, for example news reports at http://www.citypages.com/restaurants/more-reader-backlash-over-the-working-families-agenda-7745147 and http://www.citypages.com/restaurants/businesses-and-the-mpls-city-council-battle-over-working-families-agenda-7729364). Opponents argued that the predictability pay proposal would have dramatic negative effects on small businesses and decrease flexible scheduling favored by some workers.

Reacting to this opposition, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges indicated that city officials need more time to consider alternatives to the current proposal that promote greater scheduling predictability for employees but are also workable for businesses.

Despite setting aside their predictability pay proposal, it appears the mayor and city council members will continue to push for paid sick leave. Under the current proposal, workers of a Minneapolis-based business would earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. For smaller businesses, workers could earn up to 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, while employees of businesses with at least 20 employees could earn up to 72 hours of paid sick leave per year. President Obama has proposed similar paid sick time rights, and he recently signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide paid sick time on a similar schedule (see http://nypost.com/2015/09/07/obama-pushes-paid-sick-leave-for-all-workers/).

While paid sick leave may be helpful to those workers who are not currently entitled to such time off, the city’s proposal will certainly add additional costs for small employers. The requirements will also likely increase lawsuits against employers—particularly if the final legislation includes a provision providing attorneys’ fees to a successful plaintiff.

Whatever you think of the proposal, it seems like an important time for employers and employees to become engaged in the political process to ensure that various perspectives are heard.

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