Expanding Earned Sick and Safe Time

The Minnesota Budget Project supports expanding earned sick and safe leave for more Minnesota workers so that people who work hard can better make ends meet.

Issue Overview

Minnesotans who work hard should be able to support their families. But too many Minnesota workers lose wages or their jobs if they take time off when they or a family member are sick or dealing with domestic abuse. Currently, about 1.1 million Minnesota workers do not have the ability to earn sick leave. And for many of those workers, one or two days of lost wages can mean difficulty paying the rent, their family's transportation or child care costs.

Those workers least able to afford to lose wages are also the least likely to have earned sick time. In Minnesota, three-quarters of part-time workers and two-thirds of the lowest-wage workers lack earned sick leave. People of color also are more likely to have no earned sick days. In Minnesota, 60 percent of Hispanic workers and 47 percent of African-American workers do not have earned sick leave. 

Earned sick leave is also good for businesses. Businesses that provide earned sick leave have less turnover and training costs, and they don't experience significantly higher levels of absenteeism. Our workplaces are healthier when sick workers can stay home and take care of themselves.


No statewide changes were made in access to earned sick and safe time in the 2015 or 2016 Legislative Sessions. Bills introduced in the 2015 Legislative Session to expand access to earned sick and safe time for Minnesota workers included House File 549 (lead author Representative John Lesch) and Senate File 481 (lead author Senator Sandra Pappas). These bills would have allowed all Minnesota workers to earn sick and safe time after about four months on the job. Workers at large employers would earn up to nine days per year, while those at small employers would earn up to five days each year. (Employers could allow their employees to accrue more sick days than these requirements.)

These earned sick leave provisions were also contained within the Working Parents Act, House File 1093 (lead author Representative Paul Thissen) and Senate File 1085 (lead author Senator Sandra Pappas).

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, there has been some recent progress. During the summer of 2016, both cities passed requirements that would allow more workers to earn paid sick leave.

In the 2017 Legislative Session, the Legislature passed bills that would prohibit local governments from setting higher wage and benefit standards than currently required by state law, which would reverse the sick leave policies in these two cities. The bill language was originally found in House File 600 (lead author Representative Pat Garofalo) and Senate File 580 (lead author Senator Jeremy Miller). The bills passed in the 2017 Special Legislative Session as Senate File 3 and House File 4. These bills were then vetoed by Governor Mark Dayton. 

More Information


Staff contact: Clark Goldenrod, Senior Policy Analyst, 651-757-3071


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