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2024

Statewide Paid Sick and Safe Leave Required in 2024

Beginning January 1, 2024, employers of all sizes are required to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees who work at least 80 hours in a year in Minnesota. Highlights:

  • Employees begin to accrue paid sick and safe leave on January 1, 2024, or their date of hire if it’s later, and will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.
  • Employers can cap sick and safe leave accrual at 48 hours per year. Accrued sick and safe leave carries over from year to year, up to a total cap of 80 hours.
  • Sick and safe leave can be used as soon as it is accrued—there’s no waiting period.
  • Leave can be used for an employee’s or their family member’s medical needs; for reasons related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking; when school, work, or a place of care closes due to weather or public emergencies; and for reasons related to preventing the spread of communicable disease.
  • Available and used leave must be reflected on employee pay statements.
  • Employers must provide employees with notice about their sick and safe leave rights and include a sick and safe leave notice in the employee handbook.  This sample notice was recently issued by the Department of Labor.

ESST local ordinances are in effect in the cities of Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and may differ from the state’s ESST requirements. Employers are responsible for following the ESST requirements most favorable to their employees.

Bloomington and St. Paul Amend Sick and Safe Time Ordinances

Effective January 1, 2024, Bloomington and St. Paul’s sick and safe time (sick time) ordinances will be amended to align with the new Minnesota Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law, which is also effective January 1, 2024.

Amendments to both the Bloomington and St. Paul ordinances include:

  • Expanding the reasons an employee may use sick and safe time to match the Minnesota law;
  • Expanding the definition of “family member” to match the definition in the Minnesota law;
  • Removing the 90-day waiting period before an employee can use accrued sick time. Now, employees are entitled to use accrued sick time immediately;
  • Changing the provisions on frontloading and carryover to align with the Minnesota law; and
  • Expanding the types of documentation an employee can submit if required by the employer.

The St. Paul amendments also include new provisions requiring job restoration, protection, and benefits preservation while an employee is on leave. The City of St. Paul is currently revising the administrative rules for the ordinance.

Salary History Ban Enacted

Effective January 1, 2024, employers will not be able to ask about, consider, or require an applicant to disclose their pay history to determine their wages, salary, earnings, benefits, or other compensation, nor can they solicit the information from other sources. The prohibition will not apply if the applicant’s salary history is public record unless the employer seeks access to it with the intention of using it to determine the applicant’s wage, salary, etc. Applicants will be able to volunteer their pay history to negotiate wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation, and employers will be able to consider this volunteered information to support paying them a higher wage or salary than was initially offered.

The law will not limit or prohibit anyone from bringing an alleged wage discrimination claim based on their protected class (e.g., race, creed, sex, etc.), and it will not prevent employers from:

  • Providing wage, benefit, compensation, or salary information for a position; or
  • Discussing (or asking about) pay, benefits, or compensation expectations with an applicant.

Gender Identity Protection

The state has modernized its definition of gender identity as a protected class in employment, and while it was previously included within the definition of sexual orientation (dating back to 1993), it’s now recognized as its own category.

New Veterans’ Services Poster

Effective January 1, 2024, every employer in Minnesota with more than 50 employees must conspicuously display the state’s new veterans’ services poster (coming soon from the MN Department of Labor & Industry).

2023

Hairstyle Discrimination Prohibited

Effective August 1, 2023, the state’s employment discrimination law, which applies to employers of all sizes, now defines race to include traits associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and styles such as braids, locs, and twists. While the law calls out hairstyle discrimination specifically, the protection for traits associated with race may ultimately generate broader applications of the law, such as protections for dialect and styles of dress.

Employers should evaluate any policies that limit hairstyles, including policies that contain indirect restrictions, like those that require hair to be less than a certain length. If you have safety concerns, brainstorm ways to safely allow protected hairstyles. For example, employees with long hair may be able to tie it back or cover it during hazardous activities. If you can’t resolve a conflict between protected hairstyles and safety, we recommend consulting an attorney before taking adverse action against an employee.

Cannabis Legalized and Protected

Effective August 1, 2023, recreational cannabis use was legalized in Minnesota and given significant protections in the employment context. First, the law that protects employees from discrimination based on their use of “lawful consumable products” has been expanded to include cannabis—meaning that employers generally can’t take any adverse action against an applicant or employee for being a cannabis user.

Additionally, the state’s workplace drug testing law has been amended to limit employer cannabis testing. Notably, employers can’t require pre-employment drug tests for cannabis, except for certain positions listed in the statute, when required by state or federal law, or when necessary under a federal contract.

Employers can still prohibit the use of cannabis while on the job and prohibit employees from being impaired at work. However, for an employer to have an effective and legal policy, they need to address their rules around cannabis specifically and in writing. They also need to ensure that they’re following Minnesota’s fairly restrictive drug testing rules, which were already in place and continue to apply.

Limits on Employer-Required Meetings

Effective August 1, 2023, employers can’t threaten to take or actually take adverse action against an employee in order to get them to attend, or for not attending, a meeting intended to express the employer’s opinion on religious or political matters. The same applies for receipt of communications that are intended to communicate the employer’s views on religious or political matters.

Matters are defined as religious if they relate to religious belief, affiliation, practice, or the decision to join or support a religious organization or association. Matters are considered political if they relate to any of the following:

  • Elections for political office
  • Political parties
  • Proposals to change legislation, regulations, or public policy
  • The decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization

The primary intent of the law is to prevent employers from coercing employees to attend “captive audience meetings” where the employer presents their views on unionization or labor organizing. It doesn’t apply to meetings or communications that are strictly voluntary, necessary for employees to perform their job duties, or communications that are required by law.

Pregnancy Accommodation and Lactation Protections Expanded

Pregnancy Accommodations

Effective July 1, 2023, all employers (not just those with 15 or more employees) are covered by the pregnancy accommodation law, and employers can’t require medical certification when a pregnant employee needs longer restroom, food, or water breaks. Examples of specific reasonable accommodations are provided in the amended law along with a new notice requirement that must be provided to employees when they’re hired and when they ask about or request parental leave. The notice must also be in the employer’s handbook, if they have one.

Lactation Rights

Effective July 1, 2023, the state’s lactation break law no longer limits when lactating employees can take breaks to express milk to only the first 12 months after childbirth and removes the unduly disruptive break caveat (breaks weren’t required if they were unduly disruptive). Additionally, employers must provide a room to express milk that is clean, private, and secure.

Employers need to inform employees of their pregnancy accommodation and lactation rights upon hire and when an employee asks about parental leave. Notice must be provided in English and the employee’s primary language and must also be included in an employee handbook. The state has provided a model notice.

Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Expanded

Effective July 1, 2023, the pregnancy and parenting Leave entitlement applies to employers of all sizes (the previous threshold was for employers with 21 or more employees). It applies to all employees and doesn’t have a minimum hours of service requirement. There is also an explicit job reinstatement right and employment benefits right for employees who take their leave as a pregnancy/lactation accommodation.

This change also expands coverage for two other related laws as follows:

  • Minnesota’s School Conference and Activities Leave law, which provides up to 16 hours of unpaid leave for employees to attend their child’s school-related activities, now covers all employees.
  • Minnesota’s kin care law, which allows employees to use any sick leave they may have to care for relatives, is expanded to cover employers of all sizes and all employees.

Minnesota Ban on Noncompetes

Effective July 1, 2023, and applicable to agreements entered on or after then, noncompete agreements are void and unenforceable unless they’re tied to the sale of a business, or in anticipation of its dissolution, and then would only apply to the business’s partners, members, or shareholders. For instance, if a noncompete is tied to the sale of a business, the person selling the business and the partners, members, or shareholders, and the buyer of the business may agree on a temporary and geographically restricted noncompete that will prohibit the seller of the business from carrying on a similar business within a reasonable geographic area and for a reasonable length of time. Of note, the ban doesn’t apply to nondisclosure agreements, trade secret or confidential information protection agreements, nonsolicitation agreements, or agreements restricting the use of client/contact lists or soliciting an employer’s customers. Importantly, as an employment condition employers can’t require employees­—who live and work in Minnesota—to agree to be deprived of these protections.

Bloomington Updated Rules and Releases Notice for Sick Leave

On March 31, 2023, the City of Bloomington updated its initial rules and released an employee notice of rights for the city’s Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance, effective July 1, 2023. The updated rules:

  • Provide new and expanded definitions, including a robust definition of adverse action for retaliation purposes.
  • Change the eligibility for covered employees from working “at least 80 hours” in Bloomington to “more than 80 hours.”
  • Clarify accrual rates and how to track the hours of employees who are working inside and outside of Bloomington.
  • Change the waiting period for use from “90 calendar days following the beginning of employment” to the “91st day of employment.”
  • Allow employees to use any amount of leave they want even if their leave balance is less than the designated minimum increment (four hours) established in the ordinance.
  • Provide more guidance about notice and reasonable documentation requirements.

Note: On January 1, 2024, the state’s sick and safe leave law will go into effect, as previously shared. This won’t replace Bloomington’s ESSL—rather, employers will need to apply the law, or the aspect of each law, that is most favorable to employees.

St. Paul Amended Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Effective February 18, 2023, the St. Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Ordinance was amended with:

  • New definitions to include frontloading, independent contractors, and year.
  • An accrual clarification that it’s a minimum of one hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 worked in the city and that employers aren’t required to allow accrual of more than 48 hours in a single calendar or fiscal year.
  • Carryover clarifications that an employee, who worked in the city for more than a year, can carry over up to 80 hours of their accrued, unused sick and safe time into the following year (whether calendar or fiscal year), unless the employer agrees to a higher amount. No carryover is required if the employer frontloads employees 48 hours of earned sick and safe time during the first year for use after the first 90 days of employment, and 80 hours of earned sick and safe time at the beginning of each subsequent year. Employers must also abide by new compliance and notice requirements.
  • A new employee exchange-of-hours provision that doesn’t prohibit employer policy allowing employees to voluntarily exchange their hours, trade shifts, or donate their unused, earned sick and safe time to another employee. Employers are also not prohibited from advancing sick and safe time to an employee before they accrue it.
  • New collective bargaining agreement protections where the agreement provides as much leave, under the same conditions and protections, as the ordinance.
  • New and clarified antiretaliation, antidiscrimination, and use protections for employees.

The amendment also states that employers are only required to allow their employees to use accrued sick and safe time when they are scheduled to work in the city, but employers can allow employees to use it when they’re scheduled to work outside the city.

HR Services Team
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