Minnesota Legislators Consider Sick and Safe Leave Bill That Could Pose Serious Challenges to Small Businesses
The Minnesota legislature is considering a bill that would impose mandatory paid sick leave for most employees. This prospect may sound beneficial for workers, but it could be detrimental for some, especially small businesses who are already fighting to recover from a rough economy.
Details of the Proposed Sick and Safe Leave Bill
The new sick and safe leave law, which is sponsored by Rep. Liz Olson (DFL-Duluth), would allow Minnesota’s workers to become eligible for “earned sick & safe time” once they have worked 80 hours on a job. Other details include:
- Accrual of one hour for every 30 worked
- Accrual of up to 48 hours per year
- Unused hours roll over
- A maximum of 80 hours can be banked
Additionally, employers must pay a normal hourly rate for time off.
What Can Sick and Safe Leave Be Used For?
The new law would allow employees to take paid leave for a wide range of reasons, including:
- Treatment of a physical or mental illness
- Domestic abuse
- Sexual assault
- Quarantine due to exposure to infection disease
Time off may be used if these situations applied to themselves or family members. The term “family members” was challenged by Rep. Joe McDonald (R-Delano), who proposed a narrowed definition. However, his proposal failed in committee.
Who Does the Sick and Safe Leave Apply To?
The new sick and safe leave bill expands Minnesota’s current law significantly. In fact, it could put small businesses in a bind.
The current sick and safe leave law applies to employers with 21 or more employees at one site. It covers employees who have worked at least half-time for the employer for at least 12 months.
Rep. Olson’s proposal would expand coverage to part time workers as well as small businesses. Rep. McDonald did push for an exemption of businesses with fewer than 50 employees; however, his proposal failed in a vote along party lines.
Penalties for Violations of the Sick and Safe Leave Law
On top of having to shell out thousands in mandated sick leave wages, businesses will also face a steep penalty if they violate any part of the law. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry may impose penalties as high as $10,000 per violation.
Rep. McDonald attempted to restrict the maximum fine to $1,000; however, again, the proposal was defeated in a vote along party lines.
What Happens Next for the Sick and Safe Leave Law?
Several Minnesota municipalities, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth, and Bloomington, have already imposed a sick and safe law like the one Rep. Olson is pushing. While those laws benefit workers, they present challenges for businesses in those locations.
The new sick and safe leave law was approved in the House Labor and Industry Finance and Policy Committee by an 8-5 party-line vote. Its next stop is the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee.
Questions About Minnesota’s Sick and Safe Leave Law? We Have Answers.
If you’re concerned about how the new sick and safe leave law will affect your business, you should review current paid leave policies and run your numbers. S Burns Legal LLC can help you consider the potential impact.
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