Challenge to Minneapolis Sick Leave Law is Over; Split Decision Stands

It began with the Fracas in Minneapolis, evolved into the Minnesota Melee, and now, more than a year after it began, the legal challenge to the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is over. In September, the state Court of Appeals had declined to enjoin that ordinance as it applied to businesses within the City’s geographic boundaries but enjoined it with regard to businesses outside the City limits.  The Supreme Court of Minnesota has now declined to review the Court of Appeals’ decision. That denial ends the legal challenge. The case is closed.

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While the litigation challenged the Minneapolis ordinance only, St. Paul had enacted a very similar ordinance and has been applying in within the city limits while awaiting the final resolution of the litigation.

Duluth also has had a keen interest in the litigation since it is considering whether to enact a sick and safe time ordinance. Its Task Force presented its report to the City Council on Monday, November 20.

With the closing of this case, the state of PSL in the North Star State is that a municipality may enact a PSL that applies to businesses within the city’s geographic boundaries only. The Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances have been in effect since July 1, 2017.

 

The Paid Sick Leave Patchwork Comes to Congress

A few months shy of five years ago, I predicted in a blog post the development of the paid sick leave patchwork . I wrote then:

If you look out toward the leave-and-attendance legislation horizon, and you might have to squint a bit but not much, you can see yet another patchwork beginning to take shape. This one is on paid sick days. Multi-state employers need to watch this carefully since it is certainly heading for full-fledged “patchwork” status which, when combined with the patchworks of family and medical laws, pregnancy leave laws and disability discrimination laws, makes one mega-leave-and-attendance-patchwork!

The now full-fledged PSL patchwork has arrived in the hallowed halls of Congress. Two days ago, a House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions held a hearing on workplace leave policies. In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) acknowledged the patchwork: Continue reading

Spokane’s Paid Sick Leave to Sunset January 1; Tacoma’s Merely Amended

Come January 1, 2018, delete Spokane, Washington from your list of paid sick leave jurisdictions.

The Washington State paid sick leave law that voters approved last year goes into effect on January 1, 2018.  After that vote,  Spokane amended its paid sick leave law, which has been in effect since January 1, 2017, to “sunset” upon the effective date of the state law, i.e., January 1, 2018.  My post about that Spokane amendment is here.

Tacoma, whose paid sick leave law has sunset in grand tetonsbeen in effect since February 1, 2016,  opted for a different approach. It amended its paid sick leave law to align it more closely with the state law but not completely. Tacoma finalized its rules and regulations for its amended law yesterday and published a side-by-side comparison of its original and amended paid sick leave ordinances with the state ordinance.

With Spokane deleted, Seattle, SeaTac and Tacoma are the three cities in Washington with paid sick leave laws.

 

Maryland General Assembly at Fork in Road to Paid Sick Leave

When you come to a fork in the road, take it, said the immortal philosopher Yogi Berra. The Maryland General Assembly is at a fork in the road that could lead to  Maryland’s becoming the ninth state to enact a paid sick leave law.

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One fork is the veto road. The General Assembly could try to override Governor Larry Hogan’s veto of the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act , which the legislature had passed in May. That bill would have required employers with 15 or more employees to allow employees to accrue up to forty hours of earned paid sick and safe leave annually at the rate of one hour of leave for each thirty hours worked. Each chamber of the General Assembly had passed the bill with enough votes to override a veto, but barely so.

In enacting its own bill last Spring, the General Assembly rejected the governor’s proposed bill, the The Common Sense Paid Leave Act,. That bill would have required employers with 50 or more employees to provide employees up to forty hours of leave which employees may use for any reason.

The other fork is the compromise road. Governor Hogan recently proposed the Paid Leave Compromise Act, which would scale down the size of the employer required to provide paid leave from fifty employees in 2018, to forty employees in 2019, to 25 employees in 2020 and thereafter.  The Compromise Act would allow employees to use accrued time for any reason. To that extent, the Compromise Paid Leave Act, like the Common Sense Paid Leave Act, goes where no leave law has gone before. There are other differences between the Compromise Act and the General Assembly’s bill but the size of the employer and the reasons for which an employee can use accrued time seem to be the most significant.

The General Assembly will be at the fork in the paid sick leave road when it convenes in January. If it wants the state to be the ninth to enact a paid sick leave law, it must decide which road to take. Otherwise, to paraphrase the philosopher Berra, if they don’t know where they are going, they might end up someplace else.

 

Paid Sick Leave Consideration in Three Cities Likely Pushed to 2018

In September, I noted the possibility that Austin, TX or Portland, Maine might pass a paid sick leave law this year. It now appears that any action in either city will be a 2018 story. Both are collecting views from the citizenry on such an ordinance

Austin has held two “input sessions” this month and a third scheduled for November 30. The city staff will then submit a recommendation to the City Council for its consideration.

The Portland City Council referred the Earned Paid Sick Time for Workers bill to the Health and Human Services Committee. That Committee reviewed the bill initially at its November 14 meeting. The Committee’s agenda noted that it anticipates holding a public hearing on the bill early next year.

I also noted recently that the Duluth Sick and Safe Time Task Force submitted its recommendation to the Duluth City Council on November 20. The Council is scheduled to have an “open discussion” on that topic on November 30. To move from an “open discussion” to an enacted ordinance by the end of the year would be quite speedy and I anticipate Duluth will be a 2018 story as well.

With decisions on these local ordinances pushed to next year, it is likely Rhode Island will be the one and only PSL law enacted in 2017. This is the fewest number of PSL laws enacted nationwide in the past five calendar years.

 

Minneapolis’ Paid Sick Leave at State Supreme Court; Duluth’s at City Council

Let’s revisit the Minnesota Melee. In September, the state Court of Appeals declined to enjoin the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance as it applied to businesses within the City’s geographic boundaries but enjoined it with regard to businesses outside the City limits.  I noted then that the decision would be of keen interest in Duluth since a Safe and Sick Time Task Force was working diligently toward making a PSL recommendation to the Duluth City Council.

The plaintiffs in the PSL litigation, a cadre of business interests, have asked the Supreme Court of Minnesota to review the Court of Appeals decision. The City of Minneapolis last week opposed the request, but added that if the Court agrees to hear the plaintiffs’ appeal, it should also hear the City’s appeal of the decision enjoining the Minneapolis law with regard to businesses outside of the City limits. The plaintiffs’ petition for review is here; the City’s response to the petition and conditional request for cross-review is here.

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In Duluth, the Task Force will present its report to the City Council on Monday, November 20. The Task Force has two recommendations. The majority recommendation has the typical PSL-ordinance architecture. Accrual would be at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. The Task Force did not have a consensus on an annual cap or rollover provisions. The second recommendation, a more basic approach, would require employers to have a written policy publicly available providing at least three days of PSL annually for full time employees, a pro-rated amount for part time employees.

Thus, the current state of PSL in the North Star State is that the Minnesota Supreme Court will decide the fate of the Minneapolis PSL ordinance, which will decide the fate of the analogous St. Paul ordinance, and which will define the parameters for the Duluth City Council in any PSL ordinance it may consider.

 

Washington State Paid Sick Leave Effective Date Nears

A year ago today, Washington State voters approved Initiative 1433, which requires employers to provide paid sick leave to employees beginning on January 1, 2018. My posts about that Initiative are here and here. The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has been preparing rules and documents to assist employers with compliance and to notify employees of their rights under the Initiative.wa-seal

After a notice and comment period and public hearings, on October 17, the Department adopted paid sick leave and retaliation rules. The Department is working on a second set of rules relating to enforcement of the paid sick leave and retaliation provisions. Public hearings on the proposed rules are being held today and tomorrow. Comments must be submitted by November 17. The rules are scheduled to be finalized by mid-December.

Initiative 1433 requires that employers have written policies to address specific issues such as employee notice and verification requirements, front-loading and a shared leave program. The Department recently posted “initial drafts” of policies on each of these issues. The Department seeks comments on these policies by the close of business tomorrow, November 9. The draft policies are:

In planning your workload to comply with Initiative 1433, note that in its Preliminary Cost Benefit Analysis, the Department estimates that it should take between 6.25 and 17 hours for an employer to research the law and policy options, draft and communicate the policy to employees, and train employees on the policy. If the employer does not adopt a front-loading or shared leave policy, it would take a few hours less. To update a current PSL policy to address these issues should take between 2 and 5 hours, according to that Analysis.

Kudos and a PSL hat-tip to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for its efforts to keep stakeholders informed through its dedicated Initiative 1433 website and regular email updates.