New Report Details Access to Earned Sick Time Benefits in Minneapolis

For Immediate Release – October 29, 2015
Contact: Greta Bergstrom, Greta@TakeActionMinnesota.org, 651.336.6722

City’s Most Economically Vulnerable Workers Least Likely to Have Access to Paid Sick Time Off

St. Paul, MN – On Thursday, TakeAction Minnesota released new analysis from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, detailing access rates to earned sick leave in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The new report, which can be downloaded here, breaks data down by gender, race/ethnicity, occupation, and earnings level.  Overall, the report concludes that among all workers in Minneapolis, forty-two percent lack access to even a single day of earned sick time off. Lack of access disproportionately affects low-wage, service-sector, and part-time workers, and workers of color in Minneapolis.

On the morning press briefing, Jessica Milli, Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, reviewed key findings from the analysis. Milli said, “Our data indicates that the workers in Minneapolis who are most economically vulnerable are also the least likely to have access to paid sick days off and the least able to afford being sick. There is also substantial variation to access by occupation, race, and number of hours worked.”

The analysis found that while fifty-eight percent of Minneapolis workers currently have access to earned sick time benefits, access is not uniformly distributed across populations. Key findings include:

  • Overall, approximately one-hundred and twenty-three thousand (forty-two percent) of Minneapolis workers lack access to earned sick time benefits;
  • Sixty-eight percent of Latino workers in Minneapolis lack access to earned sick time benefits, significantly less likely than workers in any other racial/ethnic group, followed by forty-nine percent of African-American workers who lack access. This stands in stark contrast to the thirty-seven percent of white Minneapolis workers who lack access to earned sick time, underscoring the wide racial disparities present;
  • Service workers—in particular, those in  food preparation, hospitality, restaurant service, personal care and other service occupations—are least likely to have access to earned sick time benefits, with only twenty-nine percent having access. These service workers have frequent and close contact with the public;
  • Earned sick time is particularly rare for those Minneapolis workers clocking fewer than thirty-five hours per week, with only one in four part-time workers having access to earned sick time, compared with seventy percent of workers working 40 hours a week having access;
  • More than eighty percent of full-time Minneapolis workers in the highest earnings brackets—those making over $65,000 annually—have access to earned sick time, while fewer than one-third (or thirty percent) of full-time workers in the lowest earnings brackets—those making $15,000 or less annually—have access to earned sick time benefits.

Joining Milli on the call was Mary Einspahr, a resident of Ward three in Minneapolis and a part-time retail employee in the city who is working while finishing her B.A. degree at the University of Minnesota. Einspahr is a strong supporter of a Minneapolis earned sick time ordinance as she has been denied access over the life of her career having worked at retail and restaurant-industry jobs that do not provide earned sick benefits. “I’ve had to go without food when I’ve fallen sick in the past because missing a day or two of work to get better meant I couldn’t afford to go grocery shopping. It’s hard for people to get over an illness and get back on the job when you can’t eat three meals a day. And I often just go to work sick because I’ve been afraid of losing my job, losing future hours scheduled and frankly, because I just can’t afford to stay home.”

Greta Bergstrom, Communications Director for TakeAction Minnesota, believes the City of Minneapolis can help improve the economic security of working families in Minneapolis by instituting a strong earned sick time ordinance, ensuring all Minneapolis workers have the opportunity to earn time off to care for themselves, a sick child or a loved one. “Workplace policies haven’t kept up with the realities of working families in Minneapolis, especially workers of color. People shouldn’t have to choose between earning a paycheck and their health or the additional economic stress that comes from taking that time off and having it eat into one’s future hours scheduled and earnings.”

The report, prepared by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, analyzes data from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and the 2011-2013 American Community Survey (ACS).

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TakeAction Minnesota is a statewide people’s network of individual and organizational members working collaboratively to raise the voices of Minnesotans in their own communities to advance social, racial and economic justice. The organization has offices in St. Paul, Duluth and Grand Rapids.

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