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Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance: What Saint Paul Businesses Need to Know

Jun 30, 2017 8:43:49 AM / by CSI Accounting Staff posted in small business payroll

Saint Paul's Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2017 for employers with 24 or more employees. Beyond placing a poster on the wall and knowing that workers will accrue 1 hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, what's a business owner to do?

What do employers have to do to comply with the Saint Paul ESST ordinance?

payroll ESST.jpgAccording to the ordinance, if you are an employer with 24 or more employees that has a physical presence inside the boundaries of the City of Saint Paul AND you have employees that work inside the City of Saint Paul for at least 80 hours in a year, you must do the following by July 1:

1) Display the employee notice poster where your employees are likely to see it. You may use the poster provided by the City of Saint Paul, or you may create your poster as long as it contains the information listed in the ESST Rules.

2) Update employee handbooks, if they are used by the employer, to include information about ESST, including notice of employee rights and remedies under the ESST ordinance.

3) Make sure you have a record keeping system that shows, at a minimum, the following three items:

a. Employee hours worked in Saint Paul;

b. Accrued earned sick and safe time for each employee;

c. Used earned sick and safe time by each employee.

4) Read and review the ESST ordinance, ESST Rules, and the ESST Employer Frequently Asked Questions documents to make sure you understand the law.

Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance Effective Dates 

  • For employers with 24 or more employees, the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is effective July 1, 2017.
  • For employers with 23 or fewer employees, the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is effective January 1, 2018.
  • For employers operating in their first six months after the hire date of the employer’s first employee, the employer is required to provide unpaid sick and safe time but is not required to provide paid sick and time. After six months, the employer will be subject to this chapter. This specific ordinance subsection will sunset on January 1, 2023, at which point all employers will be subject to full enforcement. 

ESST Ordinance at a Glance

  • Employees earn 1 hour of ESST for every 30 hours worked. For example: if you have an employee who works 60 hours, they would earn 2 hours of ESST.
  • Employees can earn 48 hours of ESST per year.
  • Employees can carry over up to 80 hours of unused ESST.
  • Alternatively, hours may be “front-loaded,” meaning you can give them the hours at the start of the year.
  • Nothing in the ordinance prevents you from granting more generous leave policies to your employees.
  • Employees may use ESST for their needs or the needs of their family or household members. Employees may use ESST for personal or family illness, or if they are a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
  • If you have a Paid Time Off policy that meets the ordinance requirements, you do not need to provide more leave for your employees.
  • You must keep a record of ESST for your employees.
  • You cannot interfere with your employees’ right to use their ESST, and you cannot retaliate against them for exercising their rights under the ESST ordinance. 

Steps to Comply With the Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

If you're handling your own payroll, we recommend following these steps to stay in compliance:

  1. Review your current PTO policies
  2. Determine if your current PTO policies need adjustment to remain compliant
  3. Modify your policies, if necessary, and update employee handbooks
  4. Establish, document, and communicate PTO policies with employees
  5. Implement payroll processes and/or software to correctly accrue required benefit hours
  6. Implement payroll processes and/or software to correctly display used and available hours
  7. Implement time clock solutions for tracking where employees are working
  8. Download required posters and display them appropriately


As with any new ordinance affecting small businesses, there's a learning curve when it comes to compliance. If you need help with flexible time keeping solutions or have questions about the ESST, contact us for a complimentary consultation. Our payroll service includes ESST tracking at no extra cost.

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CSI Accounting Staff

Written by CSI Accounting Staff

This article was composed by a member of our staff who interviewed our experts to get the facts straight. Any uncited information found here came straight from a knowledgeable accountant or payroll specialist.