Store owners prepare for new paid sick and safe time law

Although the law went into effect July 1, some store owners and employees near the U are still unsure about specific details.

Manager of Sencha Tea Bar Chatchawan L Suwaratana discusses paid sick leave with the Minnesota Daily on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Sencha Tea Bar already gives its employees paid sick leave, he said.

Ellen Schmidt

Manager of Sencha Tea Bar Chatchawan L Suwaratana discusses paid sick leave with the Minnesota Daily on Thursday, June 29, 2017. Sencha Tea Bar already gives its employees paid sick leave, he said.

Christopher Lemke

A new city law mandates that Minneapolis employers provide sick and safe time for workers went into effect Saturday.

Near the University of Minnesota, awareness of the new law varied for stores facing new requirements, with some that knew of the law still unsure how it would affect them.

Under the law, Minneapolis employers with five or fewer employees can provide the time off as unpaid, but for those with more must provide paid time off. The law also states for every 30 hours an employee works, they earn one hour in time off.

Andy Strandquist, owner and operating partner at Cell Phone Repair in Stadium Village, was one of the few store owners more familiar with the mandate.

“It gives [employees] the time they need to take care of themselves and their families,” Strandquist said.

The logistics of how many hours employees have earned won’t be hard to track, he said, because he tracks work hours with software.

Other owners and employees were less aware of the law and how to proceed with changes.

Frank Lee, an assistant manager at SotaRol in Stadium Village, said while he had not heard about the law, it sounded “great” for employees. But Lee said he couldn’t speak for the owners, who must balance expenses and profits.

Employers’ only choice is to adjust to the law, Lee said. “If the law is going through, it’s going through.”

Since opening in January, SotaRol has had just one case of an employee taking sick time off.

Chatchawan L Suwaratana, store manager at Stadium Village’s Sencha Tea Bar, said while he was unaware of the paid sick leave law, he likes that employees get more time off the more they work.

Suwaratana’s employees already got three sick days per year before the new ordinance. Employees who didn’t use their days off have the money added to their paycheck at the end of the year, Suwaratana said.

Under the law, sick time off can be used when either the employee or a family member is sick. Third party documents, like a doctor’s note, are only required if the employee misses three consecutive workdays.

Suwaratana and Strandquist both said they would look into the law more before making significant changes to store policies.

The paid time off law lets employees use sick hours to care for family members and use safe time when seeking help after stalking, domestic abuse or sexual assault cases.

The law also excludes employers operating in their first year, but not if the business is part of a chain.