By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four in 10 Minneapolis workers don’t have the benefit of paid sick time, but an ordinance now being debated in city hall could soon change that.

On Wednesday, supporters and opponents of the requirement to extend paid time off for health reasons drew a standing room only crowd. It drew heated opinions from all sides.

Before the full council votes on it next week, the paid sick time ordinance was up for a final public hearing.

Charlotte Zabawa says nurses working casual hours need sick time benefits.

“There’s a lot of pressure for casual employees to work even though they may be sick,” she said. “We need our jobs and income like everybody else does.”

Workers and small business people jammed into council chambers to weigh in on the plan.

As currently written, it applies to businesses with six or more workers, granting them 48 hours a year of paid sick leave.

They can use it for illnesses, mental health or caring for a sick family member. Benefits begin 90 days after hire.

Daniel Swenson Klatt owns a small bakery and voluntarily offers paid sick time, and says it raised his costs by one percent.

“It has reduced costly staff turnovers and the associated costs of retraining,” he said.

Others, like builder David Amundson, says it will hurt businesses who have to compete with firms who hire contracted workers.

“I will become more expensive, and they will not,” he said. “Therefore, I have fewer opportunities for work and the fewer opportunities I can give to people to be employed.”

The ordinance lets employees carry 80 hours of accrued sick time into the next year.

A final vote on the proposal is slated for next Friday.

Contracted employees and casual employees are not covered in the current proposal, which could still be amended before the full vote.

Bill Hudson

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