On May 24, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed into law an omnibus jobs and economic development bill that included, among its many workplace-related provisions, the establishment of a statewide paid sick leave program, effective on January 1, 2024. This law is similar to the existing Minneapolis and St. Paul earned sick and safe time ordinances, but it does not preempt them. In other words, and according to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s website, “employers must follow the most protective law that applies to their employees.” The website indicates that an employee notice, frequently asked questions regarding the new program, and a workplace poster will be “coming soon.”
- The new law applies to any employer that employs one or more employees and has employees who work at least eighty hours per year for that employer in Minnesota.
- Employees accrue a minimum of one hour of earned sick and safe time for every thirty hours worked in Minnesota up to a maximum of forty-eight hours of earned sick and safe time in a year.
- The new law requires employers to include the total number of earned sick and safe time hours accrued and available as well as the hours used during the pay period to employees’ earnings statements.
- Employers must give notice to all employees regarding their entitlement to earned sick and safe time.
- Employers that provide an employee handbook to employees must include in the handbook a notice of employee rights and remedies.
The omnibus bill, Senate File No. 3035, also includes workplace safety provisions for the meatpacking and warehouse industries, protections and accommodations for pregnant and nursing employees, a ban on noncompete agreements, and a state-sponsored retirement program for employers that don’t offer retirement benefits.
The new law applies to employers that employ one or more employees and have employees who work at least eighty hours a year for their respective employer in Minnesota. Temporary and part-time employees are eligible for sick and safe time, but independent contractors are not.
However, the sick and safe leave requirements “may be waived by a collective bargaining agreement with a bona fide building and construction trades labor organization that has established itself as the collective bargaining representative for the affected building and construction industry employees, provided that for such waiver to be valid, it shall explicitly reference sections 181.9445 to 181.9448 and clearly and unambiguously waive application of those sections to such employees.”
Accrual of Earned Sick and Safe Time
Employees accrue “a minimum of one hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked up to a maximum of 48 hours of earned sick and safe time in a year.” Additionally, employees must be allowed to carry over up to eighty hours of unused sick and safe time into the following year, unless the employer decides to frontload sick and safe leave hours to employees as set forth in the new law.
Use of Earned Sick and Safe Time
Eligible employees will accrue paid sick and safe leave when their employment begins and they “may use earned sick and safe time as it is accrued.” Employees may use earned sick and safe time in the “smallest increment of time tracked by the employer’s payroll system, provided such increment is not more than four hours.”
An employee may use earned sick and safe time for a host of reasons outlined by the new law (see Minn. Stat. § 181.9447, subd. 1 for the entire list of eligible uses), including, but not limited to:
- the “employee’s mental or physical illness, treatment, or other health condition,” and for preventive care;
- a family member’s mental or physical illness, treatment, or preventive care;
- “absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee” or a family member;
- closure of the employee’s workplace “due to weather or other public emergency” or closure of a family member’s school or care facility due to the same causes; and
- when determined by a health authority or healthcare professional that the employee or family member is at risk of infecting others with a communicable disease.
Notice of Leave by Employees and Required Employer Notices
When employees use leave, employers may require advance notice of up to seven days, if the need is foreseeable. If the need is unforeseeable, employers may require the notice to be given “as soon as practicable.” Employers that require notice of the need to use earned sick and safe time must:
- “have a written policy containing reasonable procedures for employees to provide notice of the need to use earned sick and safe time”; and
- “provide a written copy of such policy to employees.”
Employers that do not provide a copy of the written policy to employees may not deny the use of earned sick and safe time to employees on that basis.
Additionally, if employees use earned sick and safe time for more than three consecutive days, employers may require “reasonable documentation” reflecting “that the earned sick and safe time is covered.”
With respect to employer-required notices, “employers must give notice to all employees that they are entitled to earned sick and safe time, including the amount of earned sick and safe time, the accrual year for the employee, the terms of its use under this section …; that retaliation against employees who request or use earned sick and safe time is prohibited; and that each employee has the right to file a complaint or bring a civil action if earned sick and safe time is denied by the employer or the employee is retaliated against for requesting or using earned sick and safe time.”
Employers must provide this notice in English and the primary language of employees at the commencement of employment or the effective date of the law (January 1, 2024), whichever is later. Employers can provide this notice by posting a copy of the notice at each location where employees perform work and “where the notice must be readily observed and easily reviewed by all employees performing work,” “providing a paper or electronic copy of the notice to employees,” or “a conspicuous posting in a web-based or app-based platform through which an employee performs work.”
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry is required to prepare a uniform notice form for employers to use that provides the notice information required, along with a uniform notice in the five most common languages spoken in Minnesota.
Finally, employers that provide an employee handbook to employees must include in the handbook notice of employee rights and remedies under the new law.
Required Additions to Paystubs
In addition to the current paystub requirements outlined in Minn. Stat. § 181.032, the new law requires employers to list “the total number of earned sick and safe time hours accrued and available for use” and “the total number of earned sick and safe time hours used during the pay period.”
Ogletree Deakins’ Minneapolis office will continue to report on the implementation of the Minnesota state sick leave program and will provide updates on the Leaves of Absence and Minnesota blogs as additional information becomes available.