9 ways the Women's Economic Security Act helps women in the work - KMSP-TV

9 ways the Women's Economic Security Act helps women in the workplace

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The Women’s Economic Security Act, a package aimed at protecting women in the workplace, passed the Senate on Wednesday by a 51-14 vote. Now, the bill version will head to conference with the House.

WHAT IT DOES

- State agencies cannot award business contracts over $500,000 unless the business has an equal pay certificate of compliance.

- Creates a $500,000 grant program to increase the number of women in high wage, high demand, non-traditional occupations.

- Spends $250,000 on high wage apprenticeship programs for women.

-  Establishes a $500,000 grant program to Women Venture and the Women's Business Center of Northeastern MN to help women start and own their own businesses.

- Requires the commissioner of management and budget to study the potential of creating a state administered retirement savings plan for those without access to payroll deduction or IRA plans at work.

- Increases unpaid parental leave for pregnancy from 6 to 12 weeks.

- Prohibits employers from making workers sign pay non-disclosure agreements.

- Allows women to collect unemployment benefits after quitting a job because of sexual assault or stalking.

- Expands the use of sick time to include caring for grandchildren or receiving assistance due to sexual assault or domestic abuse.

WHAT OPPONENTS ARE SAYING

Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R) said she's concerned the act will require expensive regulations that could otherwise go toward higher salaries.

"I will not vote for a bill the promotes one gender over another," Sen. Dan Hall (R) said.

Sen. Carrie Ruud (R) said the act sends the wrong message to women.

"Members, what are we telling women?" Ruud said. "That unless government steps up and helps you that you're not smart enough? You're not tough enough? You're not capable enough to be successful on your own?

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