Paid Sick Time: Beauty Salon Owner To Lead By Example

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Diane Brennan

Diane Brennan

As Minneapolis wrestles with requiring businesses to give employees paid sick time, a small business owner in St. Paul is pressing ahead to do that without a government directive because she believes it is the right thing to do.

Fusion Salon owner Diane Brennan says she plans to implement an earned sick and time off program for her seven employees by January 1, 2016. That’s notable because 50% of employees who work at companies with fewer than 100 employees don’t get paid time off when they’re sick. The Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t keep separate statistics for businesses as small as Brennan’s, but in general the smaller the business, the smaller the odds of getting paid sick time. Brennan says at small salons such as hers, there are historically no benefits.

Fusion Salon employees will get a paid day off when they are sick or when they need to tend to a sick relative.

“I care about them and their families and I want them to know that their families are important to me, too,” says Brennan. “I need to make sure I stay competitive as an employer, but that’s not my driving force. It’s really more about that I care about my employees.”

“There will be a cost, but I feel it’s a small investment that’s worth it. In the long run, I think perhaps it’s a cost savings.”

Public Health Risk Also A Consideration

Fusion Salon

Bill Sorem

[/media-credit] Fusion Salon on Snelling Ave in St. Paul

Besides fairness, Brennan says public health is also a reason to pay people to stay home when they’re sick. “This is a very intimate setting with the general public.”

That health risk is one of the reasons why many different groups are asking the government to step in. Most hospitality and service businesses won’t offer paid sick time because of market forces. In the food service industry, 77% of employees do not get paid sick time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Brennan is a member of ISAIAH, a religious group that is pressuring the Minneapolis City Council to pass the Working Families ordinance that would require businesses to give employees paid sick days. The council recently voted 10-3 against that ordinance because it also regulated how businesses could schedule their employees. An ordinance that only deals with paid sick time is in the works and may have a better chance of passing.

While paid sick time in Minneapolis may have seen a setback, requiring it is a growing trend. As recently as a decade ago, there were no laws on the books requiring it. In the past two years, three states and 15 municipalities passed sick leave laws — including Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Philadelphia and Newark. President Obama has also signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to provide workers with paid sick time. Obama’s executive order, which goes into effect in 2017, provides one hour of leave for every 30 hours of work for up to seven paid sick days a year.

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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