Proposed Earned Safe and Sick Time measures went before a public listening session Wednesday morning in Duluth.
It was the first of three public listening sessions held by a task force working to address the issue.
Inside Grandma's Sports Garden on Wednesday, the ESST task force listened to how the public feels about the topic.
ESST could be used for an employee's absence from work due to illness, or critical safety issues, including domestic violence.
"It will continue this explosion that's happening in Duluth, of people wanting to live here, wanting to build their lives here. Plus, it's just basic humanity," said Marsha Hystead, co-owner of the Duluth based business, Hailey Sault.
The task force will bring its findings to the city council, which can then choose to adopt no ordinance, voluntary compliance for employers, or a policy mandated by the city.
Some business people say ESST should be provided on a voluntary basis.
"Employers have carefully crafted benefit packages that meet the needs of their workforce. For the city to step in, with a new benefit [program] that is mandated seems to be an over reach for me," said CEO of the Duluth based company, APEX, Brian Hanson.
Hanson says it's not just about government over reach. He says not all employers can afford ESST.
"Employers only have so much to put towards a benefit package, and if this is something new, than what's going to go away from the existing. The pie is not going to get larger," said Hanson.
Others say providing ESST is an added cost for employers, which could be handed down to the consumer, which is something said is a cost worth adding.
"I'd rather pay more money for a meal, than to have a sick server waiting on me," said Hystead.
But it's not just that for Hystead, she says providing ESST will help Duluth build a stronger work force.
Hystead said, "I just believe that a really robust benefits package is something that builds loyalty with employees."
The task force says its trying to balance these concerns, as well as many others with the needs of the employers and employees in the Duluth business community.
"There's so many factors to consider, and so it's important that we have this year long discussion in the city of Duluth, about what makes sense, who's covered, who isn't covered, how do we want to treat our employees, and what do we need to do to make sure that we have a business friendly environment in Duluth as well," said Laura Weintraub, Co-Chair of the ESST Task Force.
There will be two more public listening sessions in Duluth over the next two weeks.
More information on the task force, as well as a public survey can be found here.
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