Red Lake Nation News: Minnesotans of all Backgrounds Testify in Support of Passing Earned Sick & Safe Time Statewide

St. Paul, Minnesota — On Monday afternoon, the Minnesota Senate Human Services Committee held a hearing on the Earned Sick and Safe Time bill, which seeks to implement this policy statewide. Earned Sick and Safe Time passed the House last month and aims to prioritize the health and well-being of communities by allowing workers to take time off to care for themselves or their loved ones without fear of losing their job or paycheck.

The bill is a familiar idea, as four Minnesota cities, 14 states, and many other cities across the country have already successfully implemented Earned Sick and Safe Time policies. The policy allows workers to accrue paid time off for their medical needs or to care for a family member. A recent study has also shown that providing Earned Sick & Safe Time to employees significantly improves public health outcomes and supports U.S. workers at a relatively low cost to employers.

“Everyone gets sick – and the pandemic was another reminder that when people get sick, they should be able to stay at home – not just for their own health or that of a loved one, but for the health of all of us,” said Senator Sandy Pappas, lead author of the bill. “This bill would ensure Minnesota is a state where regardless of the color of your skin, your income, or where you work, you can be there when your sick child needs you… where you can go to the doctor before your illness goes from bad to worse … where you can take the time to recover from an illness or seek support in the wake of a sexual assault without worrying about missing bills or even losing your job. Because in many circumstances, it’s still legal for workers to be fired for needing to take time off to care for themselves or a loved one.”

“I’ve seen firsthand how our city’s Earned Sick and Safe Time policies have created a more level playing field, especially for low-wage workers, women, and people of color. These policies have also helped level the playing field across businesses of all sizes. Earned Safe and Sick Time is good for employee retention and good for business,” said Elliot Payne, Minneapolis City Council Member, while testifying in support of the bill.

After three years of the pandemic, it has become increasingly clear that jobs, health, and care responsibilities are deeply interconnected. Earned Sick and Safe Time policies provide a much-needed solution to ensure communities are safe and cared for. This policy protects workers and their communities from spreading illness and injury by enabling them to take time off.

“We believe this legislation sends a strong message that caring for children and families is an important part of our society,” said Jason Adkins, Executive Director of Minnesota Catholic Conference, in support of Earned Sick and Safe Time. “Caring for children, the sick, the elderly is a privileged place in which we grow our humanity and is an integral part of family life that must be honored. Too many working people are forced to make an impossible financial choice between caring for a loved one and missing a paycheck, or even getting fired. This policy is long overdue.

“As a Disability Service Provider, I see firsthand the stark inequalities in the way we all live and work. I also see how being able to take time off when it’s necessary for our health and safety is a life-or-death need for Minnesotans. But right now, for many Minnesotans, they can’t take that time without risking their job and putting their household finances at risk,” said Megan Boyle, a Disability Service Provider and leader with TakeAction Minnesota. “No one should have to come to work when they’re ill, especially if they have a contagious illness. No one should have to come to work when they need the time to stay safe. Earned Sick and Safe Time is a commonsense, basic protection for workers.”

The Earned Sick and Safe Time bill is vital to ensuring all Minnesota workers have access to basic workplace protections. It is hoped that the Senate will take swift action and pass the bill to provide much-needed support for workers and their families across the state.

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