Minnesota Wage Theft and Unemployment Updates

Don’t Forget About the Minnesota (and Minneapolis) Wage Theft Notice!

As everyone is focused on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”), don’t forget that the Minnesota Wage Theft Prevention Act requires employers to distribute written notices to new employees that contain specific information such as wage rates and information about paid time off. Minneapolis has a similar Wage Theft city ordinance that contains additional requirements. Under both laws, employers must inform employees, in writing, if any information in the notice changes. Employers in Minneapolis must obtain an employee’s signature regarding any changes.

A change in an employee’s rate of pay, such as a pay reduction, requires written notice to the employee before the change is implemented. Additionally, being newly eligible for paid time off, such as paid leave under the FFCRA’s Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act, requires written notification. Under both circumstances, employers in Minneapolis must obtain an employee’s signature regarding the changes. Employers outside of Minneapolis can comply with the paid time off notice requirements by e-mailing the DOL Paid Sick Leave poster to employees.

New Executive Order Requires Minnesota Employers To Inform Separated Employees About Unemployment Insurance

On April 6, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-29 requiring employers to, “notify separated employees that they can apply for unemployment insurance benefits.” This requirement is effective immediately, and continues through December 31, 2020. Employers should be sure to notify all employees that are laid off, terminated, furloughed, or otherwise separated from employment, that they can apply for unemployment insurance benefits either online at www.uimn.org, or by phone at (651)296-3644, toll free (877)898-900, or TTY (866)814-1252.

Monitor Your Unemployment Insurance Account

Individuals in Minnesota are now eligible for an additional $600 in unemployment benefits. This additional benefit is provided by the federal government through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Under the CARES Act, eligible individuals can receive an additional $600 per week for up to four (4) months. Employees are entitled to this amount, even if that amount brings them above their pre-unemployment earnings level.

Minnesota employers’ Unemployment Insurance (UI) tax rate will not increase because of unemployment benefits paid as a result of COVID-19. In December of each year, DEED sends individualized UI tax rate notices to employers with information about rates for the upcoming year. By the end of this year, DEED should have removed all COVID-19 charges from employers’ accounts; employers do not need to request the removal of COVID-19 benefit charges. However, employers should plan to review their UI tax rates and accounts in December to ensure DEED has properly removed all charges associated with COVID-19. For example, if an employee did not select COVID-19 as the reason for their unemployment, DEED may not automatically remove the charge. In that case, employers should “raise an issue” with DEED to request the charge be removed from their account. As a reminder, employers are required to submit a wage detail report for unemployment insurance purposes. First quarter wage records and any necessary payments are still due on April 30, 2020.

Due to the CARE Act $600/wk benefit, Employers trying to bring individuals back to work are having issues incentivizing people to return to work. When facing this situation, employers can consider increasing pay, or bringing individuals back part-time so they get a partial UI benefit, part-time pay, and the additional federal $600 UI benefit. Additionally, if an individual refuses to return to work, the employer may consider it a resignation, and inform DEED that the employee declined available work. Employers should keep written records of offers to return to work in the event they need to “raise an issue” with DEED regarding UI benefits provided to an individual who declined work.

We will continue to inform you of changes as they occur. If you have questions regarding unemployment, other governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, or strategies to respond to the pandemic, please contact Caitlin Andersen (952) 921-4619 or candersen@prkalaw.com or any other attorney at Peters, Revnew, Kappenman & Anderson, P.A.