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Minnesota Sick and Safe Time Starts January 1

On January 1, 2024, employees in Minnesota will begin to accrue Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST). ESST is available to all employees, including those who are temporary and part time, as long as they work at least 80 hours in a year for the employer.

ESST doesn’t replace local paid sick and safe leave laws. Instead, employers in localities that have a paid sick leave law (currently Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington) must follow the provisions of each law that are most favorable to their employees, meaning they may have to mix and match certain elements of each.

Accrual and Carryover

Employees will accrue ESST at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked. Employers can calculate exempt employees’ accrual based on a 40-hour workweek (even if employees generally work more than that) or they can use their normal workweek if they regularly work less than 40 hours.

Employers can cap annual ESST accrual at 48 hours and total accrual at 80 hours. Unused accrued ESST must be carried over from year to year.

Frontloading and Carryover

Instead of using an hour-by-hour accrual system, employers can frontload employees’ ESST for immediate use at the beginning of each year. Employers don’t have to allow ESST to be carried over from one year to the next if they do either of the following:

  • Provide a lump sum of 48 hours of ESST each year and pay out any unused ESST at the end of the year, or
  • Provide a lump sum of 80 hours of ESST to employees (with no payout required).

Use

Employees can use ESST as soon as it’s accrued. Time can be taken for the following reasons:

  • Their own or their family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition, including preventive medical care
  • Certain covered reasons related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or their family member
  • The closure of their workplace because of weather or a public emergency
  • To care for their family member whose school or place of care is closed because of weather or a public emergency
  • Their inability to work because the employer is concerned about the transmission of a communicable illness related to a public emergency, or because the employee is seeking tests or diagnoses related to a public health emergency
  • When health authorities or a health care professional have determined the employee or their family member is a risk to others due to their exposure to a communicable disease

ESST needs to be provided in the smallest block of time tracked by the employer’s payroll system (but not more than four hours) and paid at the employee’s hourly rate of pay or minimum wage, whichever is greater.

As is standard with sick leave laws, employers can’t require that employees find their own coverage or deny them use of ESST if a replacement worker can’t be found.

Documentation

When employees use ESST for more than three consecutive days, employers can request reasonable documentation.

Notice

Employers must give all employees notice about their ESST rights in English and the employee’s primary language by January 1, 2024, or upon hire—whichever is later.

The notice can be provided in any of the following ways:

  • Posted in a location where it can be easily viewed
  • Provided as a paper or electronic copy to employees
  • Conspicuously placed on an online platform where employees perform work

Additionally, if an employer provides a handbook to its employees, this notice must be included in the handbook.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has prepared a sample notice for employers to use and will have it available in the five most common languages spoken in the state. Employers can request that the DLI provide the sample notice in any additional primary language spoken in their workplace.

Earnings Statement

Employers must include the total number of ESST hours accrued and available to use as well as the total number of ESST hours used during the pay period on employees’ earnings statements.

Payout

Employers aren’t required to pay out unused ESST when an employee quits or is terminated. However, employees who are rehired within 180 days of separation must have their unused ESST restored.

Existing Policies

Employers can use an existing paid leave policy to meet the requirements of ESST as long as it meets or exceeds the requirements of ESST.

Action Items

  • Update your handbook to provide an ESST policy or, alternatively, if you will be including ESST as part of an existing policy, review it and make the necessary changes

Add the ESST notice to your new hire documentation and provide it to current employees by January 1, 2024

HR Services Team
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