(Glencoe MN-) Senator Glenn Gruenhagen of Glencoe says this week, the Senate’s Labor Committee heard a bill that would mandate businesses provide paid time off to their employees if they get sick or need to care for a sick loved one. Gruenhagen says the bill requires every employer in Minnesota (that has one or more employees) to provide each employee with a minimum of one hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked. The time can be used if the employee is sick; if they need to care for a sick family member; if they are victims of domestic abuse or stalking; or for a few other factors.

Gruenhagen says on the surface, it seems like a reasonable and compassionate idea. But when you look at the details of the bill, he says there is a lot to be worried about. The most important problem is that it applies to small mom-and-pop shops the same way it applies to large employers. There is no graduated fine or warning system. There is no financial help for small businesses. If you have even one employee, you must be compliant. And if you fail, you face a fine of $10,000 per employee. Gruenhagen says businesses are already struggling under the extraordinary cost of doing business in Minnesota. Yet, most already offer a version of this program voluntarily. Others provide general flexibility for their employees when they need time off. A one-size-fits-all mandate is going to crush those well-meaning mom-and-pop shops. He says the idea behind the bill is not a bad one. I think we all would prefer that employers provide these benefits to their staff. But a mandate is not the answer. The reality is that doing business here is already extremely difficult, and mandates like this are going to cause a lot of folks to lose their jobs. Gruenhagen says Republicans have a "smarter, more effective plan. Our proposal incentivizes businesses to offer paid leave by providing tax savings, rather than forcing them into an unworkable program. Ours is a more flexible, more affordable plan that is better for small businesses, better for workers, and better for Minnesota taxpayers. "