Many of the employee handbooks Sjoberg & Tebelius has drafted over the years have contained some type of paid time off policy. These policies were purely a matter of contract, meaning the employer could offer as much or as little time off as they desired.
Some exceptions occurred over the last several years for employers who operated out of four Minnesota cities: St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth, and Bloomington. Those employers were required by law to offer a bare minimum of PTO, as established by their cities, to be used for sick and safe time.
As of January 1, 2024, the principles behind those city ordinances goes state wide. Employers can still offer as much PTO as they’d like to offer contractually, so long as their PTO policies exceed the minimum standard required by the State.
The new law provides that employers must offer their employees “sick and safe time” leave to be used when the employee is sick, their family member is sick, or when the employee needs to seek assistance for domestic abuse issues (i.e. safe time).
Leave can also be used if the workplace is closed for inclement weather, public emergency, or if a family member’s school or day care is closed because of weather or public emergency.
It may also be used if a health care professional has deemed the employee at risk of infecting others with a communicable disease (e.g., COVID-19).
What does “family member” mean?
In the framework of the new law, family member is defined in the broadest sense. It includes not only the employee’s child, spouse, and parents, but also grandchildren, domestic partners, siblings, grandparents, nieces/nephews, aunts/uncles, etc. and the same relations of the employee’s spouse or domestic partner. Furthermore, “child” and “grandchild” includes foster children, step children, adult children, legal wards, etc. The employee can also designate one individual (regardless of any blood or marital relations) per year (e.g., an elderly neighbor who the employee cares for).
In short, employers should not split hairs when it comes to whether a person is a “family member” for purpose of leave.
Who is eligible for sick and safe time?
All employees, regardless whether they are employed temporarily, part-time, or full-time, are eligible, so long as they work at least 80 hours in a year.
Because this leave is strictly for employees, the law does not apply to independent contractors.
Some employees in the building and construction industry may not be eligible.
What is the minimum of PTO employers must provide?
Every employee shall earn one (1) hour of sick and safe time for every thirty (30) hours worked, up to an annual maximum of forty-eight (48) hours.
What does this mean for Minnesota employers?
Minnesota’s sick and safe time law has additional requirements for notices that employers must provide to their employees so keep watch for published Notices and helpful FAQs.
It is also time to update employee handbooks to reflect the new minimum standards.