The Trend Continues: Minnesota Adopts Paid Sick and Safe Leave, also Adopts Safe and Sick Leave
Earlier this month, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law bills that provide Minnesotan employees with paid family leave and paid sick leave. The programs will be funded through employer and employee contributions. Employers with locations in Minnesota should prepare to be in compliance with these programs. For those whose states have yet to create such laws, get ready!
Paid Family and Medical Leave
The paid family & medical leave will provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave. Both leaves are subject to a 20-week annual limit. The paid family & medical leave will be available to employees beginning January 1, 2026. Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums will be 0.7% of an employee’s taxable wages. Employers may charge a maximum of half this premium (or 0.35%) to their employees through a wage deduction.
Employees will be eligible for the program if they earned at least 5.3 percent of the state average annual wage in total over the “base period” rounded down to the next lower $100 (currently $3,500 per year).
Eligible employees will be covered if they leave from work:
- To address their own serious health conditions, including pregnancy;
- To care for a covered family member (defined to include a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent) with a serious health condition;
- To bond with a new child;
- To address certain needs that related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or the stalking of the employee or the employee’s family; or
- To address certain needs arising from a family member’s military deployment.
Like other paid leave programs, Minnesota’s paid family and medical leave includes protections for employees who take leave—including reinstatement with limited exceptions.
Paid Sick Leave
Effective January 1, 2024, any employee who works at least 80 hours a year in Minnesota will begin accruing paid sick leave. Independent contractors are expressly excluded.
Under the paid sick leave law, employees begin accruing sick leave immediately after employment. Employees will accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours of work, up to a maximum of 48 hours a year. Employees are permitted to carry over accrued sick leave benefits, but the total amount of time that can be carried over may be capped at 80 hours.
Employees may use paid sick leave as soon as it accrues for the following purposes:
- To address an employee’s own: (i) mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition; (ii) need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or (iii) need for preventative medical or health care;
- To care for a family member (defined as “related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship”): (i) with a mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition; (ii) who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or (iii) who needs preventive medical or health care;
- For absences related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or the employee’s family member, provided the absence is to: (i) seek medical attention related to physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; (ii) obtain services from a victim services organization; (iii) obtain psychological or other counseling; (iv) seek relocation or take steps to secure an existing home due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; or (v) 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;
- Time needed when the employee’s place of business closes due to weather or other public emergency or when an employee must care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to weather or other public emergency;
- When an employee cannot work or telework because the employee is: (i) 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 (ii) 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 to a communicable disease, whether or not the individual has actually contracted the communicable disease.
Additionally, the paid sick leave law has recordkeeping and notification requirements. Employers must provide employees with notice of their right to paid sick leave. The Department of Labor and Industry will publish a sample notice. At the end of every pay period, employers must also notify employees of the number of paid sick leave hours accrued and the total number of sick leave hours available for use.
Employer benefits that already meet or exceed the benefits and protections afforded by the paid sick leave law do not need to be modified. However, if you are unsure, you should seek counsel for a review of your benefit plan.
With the passage of these laws, Minnesota is joining a growing number of states offering paid family leave and mandating paid sick leave. If you are unsure if your state has required paid family or sick leave, check with your local state Department of Labor or call competent counsel.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying with the latest local, state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at email@example.com or 203.454.0560