As the midyear approaches, it is crucial for employers in Minnesota to stay informed about the latest labor laws that will come into effect. This update highlights key changes to the state’s labor laws, specifically focusing on pregnancy and lactation protections, sick and safe leave, and local minimum wages. Employers must adapt to these new regulations to ensure compliance and maintain a fair and safe working environment. In this article, we will explore the recent legislative amendments and provide guidance for employers to navigate these changes effectively.
Local Minimum Wage Increases in Minneapolis and St. Paul
Starting July 1, 2023, there will be minimum wage increases in two major Minnesota localities:
For employers with 1-100 employees, the minimum hourly wage will be $14.50. However, for employers with 101 or more employees, the current minimum hourly wage of $15.19 will remain unchanged.
The minimum hourly wage will vary based on the number of employees:
- Employers with 1-5 employees: $11.50
- Employers with 6-100 employees: $13
- Employers with 101-10,000 employees: $15
For employers with 10,001 or more employees, the current minimum hourly wage of $15.19 will remain unchanged.
These increases aim to ensure fair compensation for workers in these cities and reflect the commitment to improving the quality of life for employees.
Expanding Pregnancy Accommodation and Lactation Protections
Minnesota has taken significant steps to strengthen the rights and protections of pregnant employees and nursing mothers. Previously, the Minnesota labor law applied only to employers with 15 or more employees, but now it encompasses all employers, regardless of size. The following enhancements have been introduced:
- Extended Leave of Absence Accommodations: Employees taking a leave of absence as an accommodation must be provided with the same or an equivalent position upon their return. Furthermore, they are entitled to automatic pay raises that occur during their leave and should retain all benefits and seniority as if they had no break in service.
- Flexible Breaks: Employers cannot demand medical documentation to support requests for longer restroom, food, or water breaks. Denying these accommodations based on undue hardship is also prohibited.
- Reasonable Accommodations: Temporary leaves of absence, as well as modifications to work schedules or job assignments, should be considered as potential reasonable accommodations. Employers should assess these options to ensure compliance with the law.
Expanding Lactation Rights
Minnesota Labor Law pertaining to nursing mothers has been expanded to include all lactating employees, not just those identified as “mothers.” The following modifications have been made:
- Time Flexibility: Lactation breaks are no longer restricted to the first 12 months after the child’s birth.
- Independent Breaks: Lactation breaks cannot be forced to run concurrently with other break times an employee would normally receive.
- Operational Considerations: Employers are prohibited from denying lactation breaks based on operational needs.
- Suitable Facilities: Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide clean, private, and secure spaces for lactating employees.
Employers have a responsibility to inform their employees about pregnancy accommodation and lactation rights. This includes providing notice during the hiring process and when an employee inquires about parental leave. The notice must be provided in English and the employee’s primary language. Additionally, it should be included in the employee handbook, if available. The state is in the process of developing sample language to assist employers with this requirement.
Action Items for Employers
To ensure compliance with the updated labor laws in Minnesota Labor Law, employers should take the following steps:
- Review and Update Policies: Evaluate and revise your lactation and pregnancy accommodation policies to align with the new regulations.
- Provide Suitable Spaces: Ensure that the lactation spaces provided to employees are clean, private, and secure.
- Communicate Notice: Include a notice regarding lactation and pregnancy accommodations in your new hire packets and employee handbook, if applicable.
Expanding Pregnancy and Parenting Leave
Minnesota’s Pregnancy and Parenting Leave law, which provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for pregnancy and bonding with a new child, now covers employers of all sizes. Furthermore, two other related laws have also been expanded:
School Conference and Activities Leave: This law now covers all employees and grants up to 16 hours of unpaid leave for attending their child’s school-related activities.
Kin Care Law: Employees can now utilize any sick leave they have accrued to care for their relatives. This law also covers employers of all sizes and has been revised effective July 1, 2023.
Action Item for Employers
To comply with the expanded coverage of pregnancy and parenting leave, school-related leave, and kin care law, employers should take the following action:
- Review and Update Policies: Add comprehensive policies regarding pregnancy and parental leave, school-related leave, and sick leave to your employee handbook. If you already have these policies in place, review them to ensure they align with the expanded coverage requirements.
- Educate Employees: Communicate the changes to your employees, ensuring they are aware of their rights and entitlements under these laws. Provide clear information on how to request and utilize these types of leave.
- Maintain Documentation: Keep accurate records of employee leave requests and any related documentation. This will help ensure compliance and provide a record of adherence to the new regulations.
Minnesota Labor Law Compliance – Local Bloomington, MN July 1,2023
Bloomington’s Sick and Safe Leave Requirement
Employers operating within the geographical boundaries of Bloomington, MN, regardless of size, are now obligated to provide earned sick and safe leave (ESSL) to employees who work at least 80 hours in a year. Employers with five or more employees must provide paid ESSL, while those with four or fewer employees may offer unpaid ESSL. However, employers who already have a paid time off (PTO) policy that meets the requirements of the ESSL law are not required to provide additional leave.
Key points regarding Bloomington’s ESSL include:
- Accrual and Carryover: Starting from July 1, 2023, or the employee’s hire date (whichever is later), employees must earn at least one hour of ESSL for every 30 hours worked in Bloomington. ESSL must carry over from year to year, although employers can cap the total accrual at 48 hours per year and 80 hours in total.
- Frontloading Option: Employers have the option to provide the full amount of ESSL at the beginning of each year, eliminating the carryover requirements.
- Usage Scenarios: Employees can utilize ESSL after 90 days of employment for various reasons, including medical needs, domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, and certain workplace or school closures.
- Notification and Documentation: Employers must include each employee’s ESSL balance and usage details on their earning statements. Additionally, employers must display a poster detailing employees’ ESSL rights in English and other languages spoken by at least 5% of the workforce. The information should also be included in the employee handbook. Compliant notices can be obtained from the City of Bloomington.
Minnesota has implemented several significant updates to its labor laws, specifically regarding pregnancy and lactation protections, expanded leave entitlements, and local minimum wage increases. As an employer, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with these changes and take the necessary steps to ensure compliance.
By updating policies, educating employees, and maintaining accurate records, you can effectively navigate these labor law updates. Additionally, if you operate within Bloomington, MN, it is essential to understand the requirements of the Sick and Safe Leave law and comply with the ESSL provisions.
Looking ahead, be prepared for the statewide implementation of Minnesota paid sick and safe leave starting January 1, 2024, and consider how it will impact your business operations.
Upcoming Statewide Paid Sick and Safe Leave
Beginning January 1, 2024, all Minnesota employers, regardless of size, will be required to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees who work at least 80 hours in a year. Here are some highlights of the upcoming law:
- Accrual and Caps: Employees will begin accruing paid sick and safe leave on January 1, 2024, or their date of hire (if later). They will earn one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. Employers can cap the annual accrual at 48 hours, and the total carryover limit is set at 80 hours.
- Immediate Use: Accrued sick and safe leave can be used as soon as it is earned without any waiting period.
- Covered Reasons: Leave can be utilized for an employee’s or their family member’s medical needs, situations related to domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, weather or public emergency closures of school or workplace, and preventing the spread of communicable diseases.
- Notification and Record-Keeping: Employers must provide employees with notice regarding their sick and safe leave rights and include a sick and safe leave notice in the employee handbook. The Department of Labor and Industry will provide a model poster for employers to display.
Remember, staying informed and proactive in understanding and implementing Minnesota Labor Law updates will not only foster a positive work environment but also contribute to the success and growth of your organization while protecting the rights and well-being of your employees.