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Sick and Safe Time in Minnesota

How employers can comply with the law

In today’s 24-hour news cycle, information is available at the touch of a button. It’s revolutionized the way businesses operate—how they find customers, and maximize profits while minimizing expenditures. This lightning fast market comes with regulations that may take smaller businesses by surprise, however. Case in point? The new Sick and Safe Time ordinance, passed in July 2017 by the city of Minneapolis. 

Leonard B. Segal, an employment attorney at Seiler Schindel Segal, stated on a panel that “Minnesota enacted one of the most aggressive labor standards for sick and safe time ordinances ever. … At this time, many employers may not even know about—and many are not compliant with—this new law.”

While the passing of this ordinance was largely overshadowed by the minimum wage hike to $15, the new law may cause more immediate problems for employers—especially if businesses operate in more than just the Minneapolis market, or have multiple places of business across the Metro area.

What do I need to know?

This new ordinance affects both full- and part-time staff, temporary employees and even paid interns. It also has requirements for businesses that employ five or fewer workers, and those that have six or more employees. In other words, no matter what kind of business you run, this safe and sick time requirement probably affects it. 

The requirement states that any covered employee that accrues 30 hours of work must receive one hour of sick leave and safe time. The amount is capped at 48 hours per year, and an accrual of 80 hours banked up over a period of more than one year. The employer may set higher caps than this, but they may not go lower.

The Minneapolis sick time and safe time may be used for preventative care, doctor visits for the health conditions of an employee or immediate family member, to seek out justice or protection with law enforcement, or to care for a family member in the event of a school closure. 

Smaller businesses that employ fewer than five people—or, businesses in their first year of operation—are allowed to offer this time unpaid. Any business that operates with six or more employees has to offer paid time off (PTO).

For new hires, businesses may offer a 90-day window before sick and safe time accrues, but it works retroactively with already hired employees. Under the law, notice requirements that employers post notice of this new law in all applicable languages, and that sick and safe time taken off must be free from retaliation.

What should I do?

An employer checklist produced by the city of Minneapolis can be found here. More information can be found on this website, as well. Segal recommends that every business owner “ensure that a business is compliant by consulting with an experienced and reputable employment law attorney, in order to update your current policies and employee handbook. An employment law lawyer may offer legal advice about safe leave.”

For more information about this area, see our overviews on employment law for employers and wage and hour laws.

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