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Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

FAQ: The coming MSP sick time/safe time ordinances

0117-sick-dayWhat is this?

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul have passed ordinances providing that all employees who perform work in the city for at least 80 hours per year are entitled to earn paid sick and safe time. This includes employees who are based in and/or primarily work in other cities, if they work at least 80 hours per year in either Minneapolis or St. Paul. Qualifying employees are entitled to accrue sick and safe time at the rate of one hour per 30 hours worked, commencing on their first day of employment, and to use accrued sick and safe time after 90 days on the job. Qualifying employees must be paid for sick and safe time used at their base rate (St. Paul) or their base rate plus any shift differentials (Minneapolis).

Qualifying employees must be permitted to accrue up to 48 hours of paid sick and safe time per year, and must be permitted to bank up to 80 hours of paid sick and safe time, which carries over year to year. If an employee uses previously banked time, the employee immediately begins to accrue paid sick and safe time again. Therefore, employees may be able to use up to 128 hours of paid sick and safe time per year.

An employee may use sick and safe time for:
  • the employee’s own illness, injury or health condition, or appointments for diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care;
  • an illness, injury, or health condition of, or appointments for diagnosis, care, treatment or preventive care for, a family member or a “member of the employee’s household” (Minneapolis) or person with a “close association equivalent of a family relationship” (St. Paul);
  • time off occasioned by domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking (e.g., absences required for medical attention, obtaining victim services or counseling, relocation, or legal process) for the employee, a member of the employee’s family, or a “member of the employee’s household” (Minneapolis) or person with a “close association equivalent of a family relationship” (St. Paul);
  • childcare in the event of a school closing (e.g., snow day).

Under the St. Paul ordinance, employers may require reasonable advance notice of foreseeable use of sick and safe time. Under the Minneapolis ordinance, employers may request advance notice of foreseeable use, but may not request more than seven days’ advance notice. Under both ordinances, employees must be permitted to use paid sick and safe time with no notice if the need is not foreseeable. Employers may not require employees to provide documentation of the need to use sick and safe time for absences of three or fewer days. In addition, employers may not require employees to find their own replacement workers.

When will these ordinances take effect, and which employers must comply?
Minneapolis

Beginning July 1, 2017, all employers who employ six or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time. Employers with fewer than six employees must provide sick and safe time, but it may be unpaid.

St. Paul

Beginning July 1, 2017, all employers who employ 24 or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time. Beginning January 1, 2018, all employers who employ 1-23 employees must also provide paid sick and safe time.

For counting purposes, both the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances include full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. Moreover, employers must count all employees, whether or not those employees perform work in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

What steps should employers take to comply?
  1. Employers must post notice of employee rights under the ordinances at any workplace or job site where any employee works. Employers must include notice of employee rights and remedies under the ordinance in their employee handbooks.
  2. Employers should review their current sick and/or PTO policies, and make changes if those policies do not already provide comparable or more generous paid time off.
  3. Employers should develop a method to track time worked in each respective city to ensure compliance with the entitlements under each ordinance. Employers must maintain records of available sick and safe time and used sick and safe time for each employee. Employers must provide notice to employees of available sick and safe time and used sick and safe time, upon request.
How will these ordinances be enforced?

The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights will investigate complaints of violations of the Minneapolis ordinance. Violations may subject employers to significant penalties, including payment of three times the accrued sick and safe time unlawfully withheld, up to a $1,500 administrative penalty, and an administrative fine of up to $50 for each day of noncompliance after written notice of a violation.

The St. Paul Department of Civil Rights will investigate complaints of violations of the St. Paul ordinance. Violations may subject employers to substantial penalties, including payment of three times the accrued sick and safe time unlawfully withheld and administrative fines paid to the employee and/or to the city.

JoLynnMarkison

Ryan Mick

Dorsey & Whitney LLP

 

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