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Minneapolis Sick Leave Ordinance — What Employers Need to Know

The City of Minneapolis recently passed an ordinance giving sick and safe leave benefits to all Minneapolis employees. Although these provisions do not take effect until July 1, 2017, employers should be aware of the new requirements so they can update their leave policies accordingly. Below are five answers to questions that employers may have regarding how the new policy could affect their business.

1. Who is covered by the Ordinance?

The Ordinance applies to all employers who have one or more employees working within Minneapolis. The sick and safe leave provisions will benefit both full and part-time employees, as well as both exempt and non-exempt employees.

2. What is Sick and Safe Time?

Sick and Safe Time is leave allotted to employees for use when they or a loved one is sick, injured, or need to seek medical attention. It is closely tied to the sick leave provisions of Minnesota’s Women’s Economic Security Act, which requires certain employers offering sick leave to employees to also allow employees to use such sick leave to care for family members, or to receive assistance related to sexual assault, domestic abuse or stalking. Under the Minneapolis Ordinance, employees are entitled to use Sick and Safe Time to diagnose, treat, prevent, or care for their own or a family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, or to seek medical attention, obtain services, obtain counseling, seek relocation or take legal action due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or the employee’s family member. Further, employees may use accrued Sick and Safe Time to care for a family member whose school or place of care has undergone an unexpected closure, such as for weather, power outage, etc.

3. How does Sick and Safe Time work?

Employees accrue one (1) hour of Sick and Safe Time for every thirty (30) hours worked, up to a maximum of forty-eight (48) hours in a year. Exempt employees are deemed to work forty (40) hours each week for purposes of accruing Sick and Safe Time, and unused time carries over from year-to-year. For employers with six (6) or more employees, Sick and Safe Time must be paid. However, employers do not have to pay out Sick and Safe Time to an employee at the time of their separation from employment. For foreseeable uses of Sick and Safe Time, an employer may require up to seven (7) days’ advance notice. If the need is not foreseeable, employees must give notice for the need to use leave as soon as practicable.

4. What remedies do employees have if an employer doesn’t comply?

Employees who believe their employers are in violation of the Ordinance may bring a complaint to the Director of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights. If the Department’s investigation determines that a violation has occurred, the Director may order the employer to: a) reinstate the employee with back pay; b) credit to or pay to the employee any missing accrued sick time, plus pay to the employee twice the dollar value of any missing accrued sick time; c) pay an administrative penalty to the employee of up to $1,500 for each violation; and/or d) pay an administrative penalty to the City of up to $50 for each day of non-compliance.

5. What do I have to do to make sure I comply?

As well as ensuring that your company sick leave policy falls in line with the new Minneapolis guidelines, the Ordinance also requires all employee handbooks to contain notice to the employees of their rights and remedies under the Ordinance. So long as your leave policies meet the standards outlined in the Ordinance, nothing prohibits you from giving more generous leave benefits, or from lumping Sick and Safe Time together with a general PTO policy. Finally, employers must maintain records for each employee showing both accrued and used Sick and Safe Time. These records must be maintained for current and former employees for a period of three (3) years, and are subject to inspection by the Department and the employee upon request.