Your 'safe and sick time' rights during cold weather closures in Minneapolis, St. Paul

Schools across the state are closing for the next two days because of the bitter cold. The cancellations are leaving parents frazzled with last-minute child care options.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul there's a little known sick and safe time ordinance that allows both full-time and part-time employees to take paid time off if their company has more than six workers. If the company within those city limits has less than six employees, you are still entitled to time off, but it may not be paid.

“If you work within the City of Minneapolis and you thought you didn’t receive any sort of sick leave or PTO and thought you had no access to time off whatsoever that’s not true," said Brian Walsh, the manager of Labor Standards in Minneapolis.

Walsh says you must have already accrued time off within the company and notify your manager as soon as possible.

If staying home this week is not an option, there are several places like the YMCA, which is offering alternatives for child care. If you're already a member you can send your child for the day. Children ages 10 to 17 can even go alone. If you are not a member, the YMCA in north Minneapolis will be opening up emergency childcare Tuesday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for school-aged kids for $12.

“We hear about working parents who say there isn’t a lot of options there isn’t a lot of options for me to do with my kid when I still need to go to work," said Greg Waibel of Greater Twin Cities YMCA.

The Boltz Family Martial Arts Academy in Mendota Heights is allowing parents to drop off kids for the day to run around and get some energy out. It’s $10 and kids get a meal plus an opportunity to put the tablets down. The owner says parents have been calling nonstop to sign their children up.

"We’re going to open our doors because it’s always 72 and sunny in here,” said Greg Boltz Bolton of Boltz Martial Arts Academy. 

In anticipation of the deep freeze, all this week the Elite Gymnastics Academy in Burnsville is hosting a Frozen Fun Day Camp.

“If it’s safe for our employees to get here, safe for our parents, then we are here,” said Michele Lukanen.

For a fee, pre-K through eighth grade students can spend the day at the camp.

“We keep them moving and grooving with crafts and snacks and open gym and activities,” said Lukanen.

On Monday, Lakeville Ames Arena opened its doors to dozens of students who saw their classes canceled due to winter weather.

“We kind of figured that we have staff here, we might as well open up, and charge a couple bucks and kids can have a fun day at the rink,” said Matt Nelson of the Lakeville Ames Arena.