The City clarified last night some very important steps that all employers should be aware of. First, the work of the Task Force is to provide recommendations to the Saint Paul Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission on a proposed ordinance. The Human Rights team, with the assistance of the City Attorney’s office, will draft a proposed ordinance. That ordinance will have a hearing as part of the Commission’s normal hearing scheduling, providing an opportunity for further input.
Finally, when ordinances are proposed for adoption by the City, the City Council will use their normal process for adopting any ordinance where four separate readings of a proposed ordinance are held during a City Council meeting. Each reading provides opportunity for public testimony and the opportunity to further shape the final ordinance. The Chamber will be active in this process and fully anticipates extensive meetings with city staff and the council to ensure that any proposed ordinance does not unduly burden businesses of all sizes and types. You can read more about ordinance readings on pages 9 and 10 of this City of Saint Paul City Council Welcome Guide.
As to the meeting last night, the ESST Task Force:
- Defined the increment under which sick and safe time can be used. The Task Force adopted the following statement: “Employees may use paid sick time in increments consistent with current employer/payroll practices, as defined by industry standards or existing employer policy.” Simple, to the point, and employer friendly.
- Defined the meaning of family for the purposes of taking any ESST to assist a family member. The definition was: “Family means a child, adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother in law, father in law, grandchild, grandparent, or step-child. Child includes a biological child, step-child, foster child or adopted child.” Finally, family was said to also include: “Any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” Again, the good news for the business community is that this language is in common use and doesn’t create any new relationships that employers don’t already honor and respect.
- Set the maximum cap for accrued hours for ESST at 80 hours. The employer community was in favor of a considerably lower number (48 or less) but the majority of the room favored the larger value. We hope that we can influence this variable further in the process that remains.
The Task Force then switched to examining exemptions. Exemptions are those (or individuals) who would not be subject to any proposed ordinance. The Task Force decided:
- That no exemption would be provided for small employers. Minneapolis exempted small employers with less than 3 employees. This was a divided vote, with many employers (and others) asking for an exemption given the impact to smaller organizations.
- The Task Force did agree to provide a “ramp up time period” for small employers of less than 24 employees to give them up to six months to comply with the ordinance once any given ordinance is implemented.
- The Task Force also said that new small employers, formed at some point in the future, should also be provided a “grace period” during which they could move towards compliance, but the Task Force was not able last night to agree on what the grace period would be. The discussion was postponed until May 5th.
- The Task Force agreed that family businesses would be treated just like all other employers. Although there was some discussion, in jest, as to making your kids work harder just because you could!
The ESST Task Force will next meet on May 5th and May 12th. These two final meetings should be sufficient to cover exemptions and enforcement, which would provide the Human Rights Commission with the requested framework to begin drafting a proposed ordinance.