The Minnesota Legislature passed a statewide paid sick and safe leave law on May 16, 2023 that will be sent to the governor’s desk for signature.
The new law, which is expected to be signed and would take effect on January 1, 2024, requires all employers to provide up to 48 hours of paid sick leave per year to most employees working in Minnesota. Employers covered by ordinances in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington* should prepare to expand their city sick and safe leave plans to employees statewide, with some adjustments, including greater access to reasons for leave and more restrictive documentation or notice requirements.
What are the specifications of this law?
The key requirements include:
- Accrual. Employees must accrue 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to 48 hours in a year, and rollover any unused time up to a maximum bank of 80 hours. Exempt employees are presumed to work 40 hours per week for purposes of accrual.
- Frontloading. In lieu of an accrual system, employers may frontload sick time. However, if the employer does not frontload at least 80 hours, the employer must pay out the balance of unused time at the end of the year.
- Use of Paid Sick Leave. Employees may use paid sick time for the following reasons:
- Their own mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition; need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or for preventive medical or health care;
- To care for a family member for the same reasons stated above;
- An absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or employee’s family member, provided the absence is to:
- Seek medical attention related to physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking;
- Obtain services from a victim services organization;
- Obtain psychological or other counseling;
- Seek relocation or take steps to secure an existing home due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; or
- Seek legal advice or take legal action, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking;
- Closure of the employer’s place of business due to weather or other public emergency or an employee’s need to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to weather or other public emergency.
- An inability to work or telework because the employee is:
- prohibited from working by the employer due to health concerns related to the potential transmission of a communicable illness related to a public emergency; or
- seeking or awaiting the results of a diagnostic test for, or a medical diagnosis of, a communicable disease related to a public emergency and such employee has been exposed to a communicable disease or the employee’s employer has requested a test or diagnosis; and
- When it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care professional that the presence of the employee or family member of the employee in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the exposure of the employee or family member of the employee to a communicable disease, whether or not the employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.
- Rate of Pay. An employee must receive paid sick time at the “same hourly rate” they earn from employment. How this applies to employees with multiple hourly rates, commissions, bonuses, or shift differentials will need to be resolved by forthcoming agency guidance.
- Notice of leave. An employer can require employees to provide advance notice of leave, but only up to seven days if the leave is foreseeable, and as soon as practicable if it is not foreseeable. Importantly, employers must have a written policy containing notice requirements, or else they are unenforceable.
- Documentation. Employees may require documentation to substantiate a need for leave, but in some cases, this may be satisfied by a written statement from the employee, rather than a doctor’s note. Information provided to an employer must be treated as confidential.
- Retaliation/Replacement Worker. Employers may not retaliate against an employee who exercises rights under the law. Specifically, employers cannot assign attendance “points” for absences covered by the law. Employees cannot be required to search for a replacement worker. The law provides for reinstatement rights.
- Posting. Under the new law, employers must provide specific notice of the law by displaying a poster or providing a copy electronically or in paper to employees. The Minnesota Wage Theft law also requires employers to provide notice of leave benefits to employees.
- Family member. The term “family member” as defined under the law is broad, and permits employees to designate up to one individual annually regardless of relation.
Employers are encouraged to contact Courtney Blanchard with questions or for assistance.
* The Bloomington Ordinance is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023.