Only 5 U.S. cities require paid sick time - KMSP-TV

Only 5 U.S. cities require paid sick time

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

You may be shocked to learn there are only five major cities in the U.S. that mandate paid sick time for employees of private companies.

Thursday, New York City became the 5th, when their city council approved the measure by a vote of 45-3.

The Earned Sick Time Act requires private businesses, with 20 or more employees, to provide five paid sick days annually, beginning in April 2014. This will affect nearly one million New York City workers who don't currently have paid sick leave.

In Minnesota, Rep. John Lesch sponsored a bill during the 2009 H1N1 breakout requiring employers to give their workers one hour of sick time for every 40 hours worked.

The bill failed.

Many companies are against this because if a worker calls in sick and another employee has to fill in, the employer ends up paying both for sick time and overtime. But, is it all about money or are there other reasons companies and other cities haven't adopted paid sick leave for all employees.

Nationally, about 73 percent of full-time workers receive paid sick time, according to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, in Minnesota that number is much smaller. 41 percent of working people do not have access to paid sick leave.

This has been a tough fight in politics because the Family Medical Leave Act gives employees the right to unpaid leave. And to now move in the direction of paid leave becomes "very difficult politically," according to Amy Monahan, a University of Minnesota law professor who studies employee benefits law.

In 2006, San Francisco became the first city to require companies to provide paid sick days, according to the National Partnership for Women and Families. Washington and Milwaukee followed in 2008, and Connecticut became the first state to pass statewide paid sick time laws in 2011.

Why this is such a tough fight for lawmakers? Is this anything that could be on the horizon in Minnesota?

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