Recently, amendments have been made to the Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law, that affect both employers and employees. Most of the revisions were effective May 25, 2024, and aim to make sure everyone receives fair treatment while streamlining the application of ESST.

Under the amended ESST laws, employers no longer need to include ESST hours on earning statements or paychecks, however, they must establish a reasonable system for distributing this data at the end of each pay period. This may involve electronic means, if employees are given access to employer-owned computers during regular working hours to review and print the data if the employee so chooses.

The grounds for using ESST largely remains the same, however the amendment now allows ESST to be used for bereavement, including funeral arrangements and legal obligations arising from a family member’s death. It clarifies that individuals projected to work a minimum of 80 hours annually for a Minnesota-based employer are covered.

ESST law was amended to allow employees to use their ESST in increments that reflect the regular time they get paid; however, employers do not need to give ESST use to employees who are using the time in less than 15-minute increments. While employers must allow usage for a minimum 15-minute intervals, restrictions on maximum increments are set at four hours per use. Employers are mandated to compensate ESST usage at rates equivalent to the employees’ regular earnings.

Under the updated law if an employer does not allow ESST use when the use is allowed under ESST laws, then the employer is liable to the employee for the amount equal to the pay the employee would have received using ESST as well as the same amount as liquidated damages. (So, two times the employee’s pay).

The amended law retains the requirements for documentation which were originally spelled out in the ESST laws but adds clarity to the timeline for triggering the employer’s ability to request the documentation. Now, three consecutive days of an employee using ESST refers to scheduled workdays. So, if an employee was scheduled to work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and consecutively used ESST on those days, then the employer may require the employee to provide documentation. But be aware, employees who earned paid time off before January 1, 2024, might still need to follow the employer’s existing notice and documentation rules. Starting January 1, 2025, any extra paid time off given by an employer must follow the same rules as ESST for when an employee is sick or injured, without needing it to accumulate over time.

The recent amendments to the ESST law includes some significant changes impacting both employers and employees, most of which were effective May 25, 2024. The changes aim to ensure fairness and clarity for ESST laws, making its application straightforward for both employers and employees.

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