Effective July 1, 2023, the law that requires employers to provide employees with pregnancy and childbirth accommodations now applies to employers of all sizes, not just those with 15 or more employees. It’s also expanded as follows:
- Employees who take a leave of absence as an accommodation are entitled to the same or an equivalent position upon their return to work. They’re also entitled to automatic pay raises that occur during the leave and must retain any benefits and seniority as if they had no break in service.
- Employers can’t require medical documentation to support an employee’s request to take longer restroom, food, or water breaks, and aren’t allowed to deny these accommodations on the basis of undue hardship.
- Temporary leaves of absence and work schedule or job assignment modifications are added as examples of potential reasonable accommodations. Employers should consider these options.
Minnesota’s law regarding nursing mothers, which already applied to employers of all sizes, is expanded to cover any lactating employee (not just “mothers”), and is broadened as follows:
- Lactation breaks will no longer be time-restricted to the first 12 months after the child’s birth.
- Lactation breaks can’t be required to run concurrently with any other break time the employee would usually receive.
- Employers aren’t allowed to deny lactation breaks based on operational needs.
- Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide a lactation space 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. A model notice is available here.
- Create or update your lactation and pregnancy accommodation policies to be compliant.
- Ensure that lactation spaces provided are clean, private, and secure.
- Include a lactation and pregnancy accommodation notice in your new hire packets and your employee handbook, if you have one.
Minnesota’s Pregnancy and Parenting Leave law, which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy and new child bonding, is expanded to cover employers of all sizes and all employees, effective July 1, 2023.
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.
Add pregnancy and parental leave, school-related leave, and sick leave policies to your handbook, or, if you already have them, review them to ensure they satisfy the law’s new coverage requirements.
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.
Employers of all sizes are required to provide earned sick and safe leave (ESSL) to employees who work for at least 80 hours in a year within the geographic boundaries of Bloomington. For employers with five or more employees, ESSL must be paid. For employers with four or fewer employees, ESSL may be unpaid. Employers that offer a paid time off (PTO) policy that allows employees to take the same amount of time off, for the same reasons, and under the same conditions as the ESSL law requires don’t need to offer additional leave.
Employees must begin to accrue ESSL on July 1, 2023, or their hire date—whichever is later—and must earn at least one hour of ESSL for every 30 hours worked in Bloomington. ESSL must carry over from year to year. Employers may cap ESSL accrual at 48 hours per year and 80 hours total. Under certain conditions, employers can frontload ESSL at the beginning of each year and avoid the carryover requirements.
Employees can begin to use ESSL after 90 days of employment for reasons related to their own (or their family member’s) medical needs; for the death of a family member; for certain reasons related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, and stalking; and for certain closures of the employee’s workplace or their family member’s school or place of care.
Employers must include each employee’s balance of accrued ESSL and how much they have used on each earning statement. Employers are also required to provide employees with notice of their ESSL rights by displaying a poster at each worksite. This notice must be posted in English and any other language spoken by at least 5% of employees at the worksite (if one is made available in that language by the City). Employers must also include this information in their employer handbook. The City has made compliant notices available here.
Note: On January 1, 2024, the state’s sick and safe leave law will go into effect, as discussed below. 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.
On or before July 1, 2023, if you have employees working in Bloomington:
- Add a sick leave policy to your handbook or, if you already have a sick leave or PTO policy, review it to ensure it meets the requirements of the ESSL law
- Display the sick leave poster at each worksite
More information is available on the city’s ESSL website.
Beginning August 1, 2023, cannabis is a lawful product in Minnesota (for adults 21 and older) that can be used off premises and during nonworking hours. Employers can’t discriminate in hiring, firing, or employment based on an individual’s enrollment in a cannabis registry program or positive drug test for cannabis unless it was used at work, during working hours, or while operating an employer’s machinery, vehicle, or equipment. If that’s the case, employers can discipline or fire them.
Employers can implement a drug-free workplace and test for cannabis randomly or when they reasonably suspect an employee is using cannabis at work. Additionally, certain occupations have a testing exception; they must be tested, like those in safety-sensitive positions or when working with children. Employers can’t test applicants arbitrarily or just to determine the presence of cannabis, unless it’s legally required.
Employees can present their patient registry as an explanation as to why they tested positive but that won’t excuse cannabis use on premises or during work hours. The law also contains testing procedure requirements, notice mandates, and additional employee protections.
- 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.
More information is available on the city’s website.
Ensure that your policies have been updated accordingly.