MN legislator may introduce bill to require paid sick leave

If you live and work in Minnesota, the chances are high that you either know someone or have personally been infected with one of the flu strains prevalent in the state this year. Minnesota is currently in the midst of flu season, with hospitals in Southern Minnesota recently reporting a sharp increase in the number of flu cases. According to health officials, over 900 people in Minnesota have been admitted to the hospital due to the flu.

The flu season got off to an early start this year. A health official at the Minnesota Department of Health believes this flu season will likely be deemed severe once it has concluded.

As a result of the large number of cases of this contagious disease, a state representative in the Minnesota legislature is planning to reintroduce a bill he first sponsored in 2009. The bill would require employers of a certain size to provide one hour of paid sick time off for every 40 hours an employee worked.

Are employers required to provide paid sick leave?

Currently, there is no federal law that requires employers to provide any paid sick leave to their employees. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, employers must provide 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave, under certain circumstances. For many workers, unpaid time off through FMLA is not a viable option regardless of the severity of the illness, as they cannot afford to have a reduced paycheck.

Consequently, many workers report to work even when they are suffering from a contagious disease - leading to the infection of even more people. In fact, according to the American Journal of Public Health, approximately 5 million cases of the flu were spread in 2009 due to employers failing to provide paid sick leave to their employees.

Across the country, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employers provide paid sick leave to only around 73 percent of all full-time employees. This has led other states to take action, as well. Currently, paid sick leave has only been mandated in one state and three cities:

  • Connecticut
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Washington D.C.

Under Connecticut law, employers must provide five paid sick days annually to full-time employees. In addition to Minnesota, legislators in Massachusetts, New York City and Philadelphia have also called for paid sick leave legislation.

If you believe you have been improperly denied leave of any type by your employer, consulting with a skilled, Minnesota employment law attorney will ensure your rights are protected.