The Duluth City Council took a few more steps toward crafting a proposed ordinance that would require local employers to provide workers with access to paid time off to deal with an illness or other family emergency, such as domestic abuse. But in passing several amendments Monday night, councilors returned the ordinance to the status of a first reading.
At the soonest, the ordinance now could go to a vote on May 14.
One amendment passed Monday would change the proposed rate of accrual for earned time off. The original ordinance called for workers to earn one hour of time off for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours off per year. But this led to a discrepancy where people working two half-time jobs would have access to more earned time off than a full-time employee.
Councilor Noah Hobbs proposed a system where workers earned one hour off for every 50 hours worked, while Councilors Joel Sipress and Em Westerlund proposed one hour for every 40 hours worked. The latter proposal prevailed on a 7-1 vote, with Councilor Zack Filipovich alone in his dissent, and Councilor Jay Fosle absent by that point in the meeting.
The council also adopted new language that would enable workers to take time off to care for "any individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship" to recognize non-traditional family units.
Hobbs successfully offered an amendment that would authorize employers, at their own discretion, to "front-load" hours into a earned-time-off bank at the start of the year. He also proposed another successful ordinance that would allow the use of earned time off only for scheduled work shifts,
Other amendments passed Monday spelled out an employer's right to discipline workers who abuse the earned time off benefit through misrepresentation. And another amendment would call for an annual review of how the ordinance is working.
Councilors tabled an ordinance Monday night that could have opened the door for more vacation rental properties to be licensed.
Sipress asked for the measure to be tabled until the council's next meeting to allow for more work to be done on it, noting that the council has principally been focused in recent weeks on shaping an earned-sick-and-safe-time ordinance.
The proposed ordinance would authorize the city of Duluth to lift a cap on the number of vacation rental properties licensed to operate without an owner on premises. The number of such businesses in the city had been frozen at 60, but the proposed ordinance would increase that count to as many as 114 units - the equivalent of 0.5 percent of the Duluth's inventory of owner-occupied housing.
In other business, the council unanimously approved a three-year contract between the city and Law Enforcement Labor Services Local 363. The agreement calls for annual pay raises of 2.5 percent from 2018 through 2020.