More than four months after Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency in Minnesota, many employers are eager to return to normal (to the extent possible). But two recent developments in Minnesota that have further pushed back the timeline for returning to “business as usual.”
The current rule in Minnesota remains that if anyone can work remotely, they must continue to work remotely. In light of a growing trend of employees eager to return to work, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has signaled a potential enforcement push. In guidance released on July 28, 2020, DLI announced that it set up a “Work from Home Violation Helpline” for employees to call to report alleged violations and that they are actively encouraging employees to file their own whistleblower lawsuits. As a result, we recommend a careful review of return-to-work arrangements impacting Minnesota employees.
On July 25, 2020, the statewide mask mandate went into effect as a tool to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Masks are now mandatory within any indoor business in Minnesota. Relevant to the office setting, employees must wear masks unless alone in an office or an enclosed room within an office. Employees may shed their masks within a cubicle, so long as the walls are higher than face level and social distancing is otherwise maintained.