April 2017 Updates

Update on Minneapolis and St. Paul Paid Sick Leave


As many of you know, the Minneapolis Paid Sick and Safe Leave ordinance is scheduled to go into effect on July 1. Employers with collective bargaining agreements that do not meet the sick and safe leave requirements have until July 1, 2018 to make their collective bargaining agreements compliant, not until the end of the CBA term. The ordinance originally covered all employers with one or more employees performing work within the geographic limits of Minneapolis. As a result of an ongoing legal challenge, the ordinance currently only applies to employers with a physical location within the city of Minneapolis.

The ordinance was intentionally created to allow employees to use their accrued sick and safe time for a wide variety of circumstances. Despite the flexibility for workers, employers should remember that they can require employees to give notice up to 7 days in advance for planned leave. Employers can also ask, but not require, their employees to give notice more than 7 days in advance for planned leave. Employers can require documentation, such as a doctor’s note, when an employee is gone for 3 or more consecutive workdays and can ask for documentation in other situations. Additionally, an employer may require an employee to give the reason for using leave, and, even sign a document attesting that they are using the leave for that reason.

Employers should also pay close attention to the notification requirements in the ordinance. Employers are required to display the Minneapolis’ Sick and Safe Time poster where employees can easily read it. If a language other than English is spoken by 5% or more of employee population, then a poster in that language is required. Posters in the English, Spanish, Somali, Vietnamese, Lao, Hmong, and Chinese can be found here: http://sicktimeinfo.weebly.com/employer-resources.html.

The first year of enforcement in Minneapolis will be considered ‘soft’ enforcement. Although employers should remember to follow the rules, and put in a good faith effort, the city of Minneapolis will be focusing on giving warnings to violators, engaging in mediation, and educating both employers and employees about the ordinance.

St. Paul

For employers with 24 or more employees, the St. Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (“ESST”) is effective July 1, 2017. For employers with 23 or fewer employees, the ESST Ordinance is effective January 1, 2018. Although the St. Paul ESST ordinance technically covers any employer with one or more employees in St. Paul, the frequently asked questions state that the ESST “ordinance applies to full-time, part-time, temporary, or paid-on-call employees that work in the City of Saint Paul, for an employer that has a physical location in Saint Paul.” St. Paul may be trying to anticipate potential legal action similar to what was seen against the Minneapolis ordinance. Employers can use the map of Saint Paul City Council Wards (available at: https://www.stpaul.gov/departments/city-council/city-council-wards) to verify whether they are located in the City of St. Paul and subject to ESST.

While Minneapolis and St. Paul claim to have discussed the practical application of their separate ordinances, the answers to the frequently asked questions differ between the cities. Employers with physical locations in both Minneapolis and St. Paul should be careful to implement policies that comply with the both ordinances.

Update on Minnesota Pending Legislation that May Impact Employers

Uniform State Standards Bill (HF 600, SF 580)

This bill proposes to prohibit cities from enacting employment mandates (e.g. higher minimum wage, paid sick leave, scheduling rules, etc.) that differ from state law. This bill was passed in the House and is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate today, Thursday April 20.

Wage Theft Bill (HF 1391, SF 1329)

This bill proposes to remove the intent requirement and impose criminal penalties for employers who engage in ‘wage theft.’ Wage theft currently requires an “intent to defraud an employee from their wages and benefits.”

Prevailing Wage Reform (HF 1864, SF 2302)

Current law requires employers to pay overtime on state prevailing wage projects after the 8th hour of work in a day. This bill would change the requirement to require overtime pay, in highway and heavy utilities industries, after the 10th hour.

If you have any questions about this article, please contact Caitlin Andersen at 952-921-4619 or candersen@seatonlaw.com., or any of the other Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A. attorneys.