New Earned Sick and Safe Time Requirement for 2024
Effective January 1, 2024, Minnesota legislature is implementing new and improved “Earned Sick and Safe Time” provisions. Earned Sick and Safe Time will help employees by allowing them to earn up to 48 hours of paid sick leave for every 12-month period. This new benefit reaches beyond personal sickness, and grants employees time to aid ill family members, or seek safety, without the economic burden of missing work.
How does Earned Sick and Safe Time Work?
For every thirty hours an employee works, one hour of paid sick leave will accrue. To do the math, if an employee works thirty-five hours a week, for around forty-two weeks, then they are eligible for the 48 hours of earned Sick and Safety Leave. Employees do not need to keep track of their hours, because employers are required to show the accrued sick and safety hours on their earning statement, whether that be online, or a hard copy. Employees can accrue up to 48 hours of earned sick and safety leave in a 12-month period which begins the day they begin work. And, if they have not used their earned sick hours, then they will roll over to the next year, which caps at 80 hours of sick/safety leave.
Employees who use this benefit cannot be held responsible for finding a replacement for their absence. They must, however, alert their employer of their absence seven days in advance if it is a foreseeable circumstance. If it is unforeseeable, then they must let their employer know they cannot work as soon as it is practicable to do. If any employee is gone more than three consecutive days, then an employer may request documentation for the reason of the absence. It does not need to be a detailed explanation. A signed statement by a health care professional is sufficient. An employee may write the statement themselves if they did not go to health care services, if the statement cannot be obtained within a reasonable time, or if it would induce further expenses.
Who and What does Earned Sick and Safety Time Cover?
Almost all Minnesota employees are covered by the Sick and Safe time statutes. Exceptions include independent contractors, people who work less than 80 hours a year, and some flight deck or cabin crew members who are employed by air carriers. An employee may use their earned time if they are suffering a mental or physical illness, injury, or other health condition; or if they are suffering from a safety issue involving domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. If it is for one of these safety issues, they must use the time away from work to seek medical attention, counseling, help from an attorney, or relocation. If a family member is suffering from any of the conditions above, then an employee may also use their earned hours to aid them.
No Toleration of Retaliation
An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for using this benefit. An employee is entitled to receive the same job, position, and pay they had before, using their earned leave. If an employee was expecting to gain an adjustment in pay or a promotion within the time of their absence, then the employer must act as though the employee was not absent and continue with the promotion as they would, had they not left. Additionally, the employer must maintain their insurance coverage as long as the employee continues to pay their share of the cost of these benefits.
What if an Employer Already Offers Paid Leave?
For employees who already have paid sick leave—No worries! This will not take the place of those policies. It will simply act as a base standard that employers must meet. Any employer who offers more paid leave or covers a larger scope of reasons for their absence, is more than welcome to continue.
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