Minneapolis Now Requires Paid Sick Leave

Minneapolis has become the first city in Minnesota to require paid sick leave. On May 27, 2016, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a citywide sick leave ordinance, called the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance. The ordinance requires employers with at least six employees, regardless of the employer’s location, to provide paid sick leave to employees who work in the city of Minneapolis for at least 80 hours in one calendar year. It is irrelevant whether the employee is full or part-time, seasonal, or working on a temporary basis. Employers with five employees or less must allow their employees unpaid use of their accrued sick time.

Under the law, covered employees will accrue one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. The maximum amount of paid sick leave that an employee can accrue in one year is 48 hours, though unused paid sick leave can be rolled over from year-to-year, to a maximum of 80 hours.

Leave may be taken for mental illness, physical illness, injury, health conditions, diagnostic care, as well as to care for the similar needs of their qualifying family members. Employees may also use sick time if there are issues regarding domestic abuse or sexual assault, among other things. Sick time may also be used if a family member needs to be taken care of due to that individual’s school closing.

For the first five years after the ordinance becomes effective, new employers may offer unpaid leave only during the first year of operating its business. After the first year, however, they must provide paid leave if they have six or more employees.

The law provides a slight learning curve, allowing for warnings and notices to correct for employers who violate the ordinance for the first year that the law is in effect. This could include payment to employees of improperly held wages. Second violations of the law during the first year, or initial violations starting in the second year, can have significant monetary penalties.

Employers who already provide sick time under a paid time off policy or other leave policy that meets the minimum requirements of time off are not required to provide additional sick time.

The Minnesota Department of Civil Rights will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance, including investigating potential violations.

Employers with employees working in Minneapolis need to review their procedure in preparation for the new ordinance taking effect, which is slated to occur on July 1, 2017. Employers must display a poster prepared by the MN Department of Civil Rights in a conspicuous place. Further, if the employer currently has an employee handbook, it should be revised to include the ordinance. Finally, employers must keep records of the accrued sick time and must maintain those records for three years after the current calendar year in which the sick time is accrued. The Department may inspect such records.

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