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Minnesota House passes earned sick and safe time mandate

(The Center Square) – Under a bill the Minnesota House approved Thursday, all Minnesota workers would earn at least one hour of paid earned sick and safe time per every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year.

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry could fine employers up to $10,000 if they don’t submit required wage records upon the commissioner’s request.

The bill, which passed 69-54, takes effect in January 2024.

Under HF 19, for costs related to statewide earned sick and safe time, the state would appropriate in fiscal year 2024 $1.45 million to the commissioner; $20,000 to the Commissioner of Management and Budget; $127,000 to executive branch state agencies, boards and commissioners; $18,000 for the House of Representatives to modify timecard and human resources systems for its own compliance; and $1,000 for the Supreme Court’s costs for employment rights notice requirements. Additional amounts are appropriated for fiscal years 2025 and beyond.

In fiscal year 2025, the Supreme Court will receive $494,000 for a new judge unit in the Ninth Judicial District. In subsequent years, the court will receive a general fund base of $461,000.

The Commissioner of Labor and Industry would receive a one-time appropriation of $300,000 in fiscal year 2024 and $300,000 in fiscal year 2025 for grants to community organizations for outreach and education for employees.

According to a DFL Caucus news release, more than 900,000 Minnesota workers lack access to paid time off when they or a family member are ill or need to see a doctor.

The earned sick and safe time could be used for any of the following purposes, the release said:

  • To attend to the worker’s physical and mental health needs, including illness, injury or doctor’s appointment.
  • To attend to the physical and mental health needs of a family member (including illness, injury or appointment).
  • Absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking of the worker or a family member.
  • If the worker’s job site is closed because of weather or a public emergency, or if a family member’s school is closed.
  • If the health authorities have determined that the worker or his/her family needs to stay at home because they could jeopardize the health of others (like a pandemic).

Duluth, Saint Paul, Minneapolis and Bloomington already require employers to provide the benefit, and this is the fourth time in the past five sessions that the House has passed Earned Sick and Safe Time legislation.

Under the bill, employers must either permit employees to carry over accrued but unused sick and safe time into the following year or provide employees with at least 48 hours of sick and safe time if they pay employees for sick and safe time at the same hourly rate as an employee earns from employment or 80 hours, if they don’t pay the same rate. That rate must be at least the local minimum wage.

Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar, proposed an amendment to have the bill only apply to employers of more than 25 employees. That amendment failed in 57-70 vote. Rep. Kristin Robbins, R-Maple Grove, asked that the bill take effect in March instead of January, and that amendment failed by the same margin.

The legislation is advancing in the Minnesota Senate where it awaits a hearing in the Finance Committee, the release said.

DFL Media Coordinator DJ Danielson said there have been no changes to the bill’s Jan. 17 fiscal note, as changes were either technical or will be absorbed by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

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