Duluth hires Code Compliance Officer to help enact ESST policy

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DULUTH, MN– A year ago Duluth became the latest city in Minnesota to pass a law providing eligible employees to take paid leave for their own medical needs and those of a family member.

The Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance caused a lot of turmoil among city officials and business leaders with the City Council ultimately passing the new law with many provisions.

Now over a year since its passing, businesses have seven months to comply and implement the new policy to their staff.

ESST, those four letters that caused quite the controversy for more than a year in Duluth Council Chambers is now months away from going into effect.

“We want to make sure that our resources are properly allocated to make sure that the ordinance gets implemented as smoothly and efficiently as possible,” says Ian Johnson, the city’s new Code Compliance officer.

Johnson was hired over a month ago to help implement, administrate, and enforce the controversial law. He says. “answer questions before they come up so we can develop materials that we can give out in the community.”

The Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance will impact employers with five or more employees, allow employees to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 50 hours worked and allow time for employees to take care of their sick family members.

“Balance the interest of workers and businesses, and to promote economic stability and security of both,’ says Johnson.

Johnson has been reaching out to other cities who currently enforce ESST for guidance, more recently, Minneapolis and St. Paul.  “What did they do when they were implementing their ordinances, what did they not do, what do they wish they had done, what do they wish they hadn’t done.”

He says outreach has played a big role in shaping the policy. “We’re going to be going out meeting with business groups, community groups,” Johnson says.

When it comes to enforcement, no solid plan has been set. According to Johnson, a broader list of policies and rules will be out sometime this summer.

Johnson says if businesses are trying to comply with the law, but have made some mistakes, they will work with them on improvements. “We’re looking into doing sort of a soft enforcement where we won’t be coming out there with the sticks, you know, ready to beat people into compliance.

Johnson says his goal is to make the City Council’s vision become a reality. “Fulfill the purpose of the ordinance to promote the health and safety of the people of Duluth.”

The ESST ordinance will take effect on January 1.

More more on the ESST ordinance and FAQ’s click here.

Jessie Slater

Jessie Slater

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