Minneapolis, Minn. (January 17, 2023) - The 2022 Minnesota legislative session was fairly quiet on the labor and employment front. However, there was expansion of rights and wages for employees that went into effect in 2022 and will continue to 2023. Below is a summary of some of the notable changes in Minnesota that employers should keep in mind.
New Minimum Wage Rates
Effective January 1, 2023, Minnesota's minimum wage rates will increase following the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry's determination based on the rate of inflation. As a result, the new minimum wages for Minnesota will be as follows:
- Large Employers: Employers with annual gross revenues of $500,000 or more – $10.59 per hour
- Small Employers: Employers will annual gross revenues less than $500,000 – $8.63 per hour
- 90-day Training Wage: Employees who are under 20 years of age – $8.63 per hour
- Youth Wage: Employees who are under 18 years of age – $8.63 per hour
Additionally, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, effective January 1, 2023, the following changes to the minimum wages will go into effect for certain employers in those cities:
- Small Businesses: Employers with 100 or less employees – $13.50 per hour
- Large Businesses: Employers with more than 100 employees – $15.19 per hour
- Micro Businesses: Employers with 5 or less employees – $10.75 per hour
- Small Businesses: Employers with 6 to 10 employees – $12.00 per hour
- Large Businesses: Employers with 101 to 10,000 employees – $13.50 per hour
- Macro Businesses: Employers with more than 10,000 employees – $15.19 per hour
Expansion of Workplace Protections for Expectant and New Parents
The Minnesota Women's Economic Security Act (WESA) was enacted in May 2014 and designed to address gender equity, provide training and entrepreneurship opportunities for women, and prohibit familial status discrimination. Effective January 1, 2022, WESA expanded certain protections for expectant and new parents in the workplace.
Minnesota employers are now required to provide paid break time for nursing and lactating employees to express milk at work. Specifically, employers must provide nursing mothers with "reasonable break times each day to express breast milk for her infant child . . . ." The provision of these break times is limited to the "twelve months following the birth of the child."
Additionally, Minnesota employers with 15 or more employees must take steps to ensure that expectant employees can request and receive pregnancy accommodations in the workplace, including frequent restroom, food, and water breaks and limits to heavy lifting. Previously, this requirement to accommodate pregnant employees applied only to employers with 21 or more employees.
Another Minnesota City Mandates "Sick and Safe Leave" Effective July 1, 2023
On June 6, 2022, the City of Bloomington joined Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth by requiring paid "Sick and Safe Leave" (SSL) to all eligible employees. This mandate will go into effect on July 1, 2023.
Under this ordinance, employers are defined as a "person or entity that employs one (1) or more employees." Eligible employees include full-time, part-time and temporary employees and performs work at a location within the geographical boundaries of the City of Bloomington for at least 80 hours per year. Independent contractors and student interns are not considered an eligible employee under the ordinance.
Eligible employees accrue a minimum of one hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked within the geographical boundaries for Bloomington and earn a maximum of 48 hours paid sick and safe time in a calendar year. Exempt employees are deemed to work 40 hours per work week unless the exempt employee's regular work week is less than 40 hours. Eligible employees can carry over accrued but unused sick and safe time into the following year, with a maximum carry over of 80 hours. Accrual of sick and safe time begins upon commencement of employment or June 6, 2022, whichever is later.
Employees can use the accrued sick and safe time after 90 calendar days of commencement of their employment. Employees can use this paid sick and safe time for the employee's mental or physical injury, health condition, or medical care; the care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee of family member; the closure of the employee's place of business by order of a public official; to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official; or to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, water, heat, or other unexpected closure. Employers can request reasonable documentation for certain absences of more than three consecutive days if the employer provides health insurance benefits to the employee.
Employers are required to post in a conspicuous place at any worksite where an employee works a notice of the employees' rights under this ordinance. Further, upon request by an employee, the employer must provide, in writing or electronically, information about the employee's current amount of accrued sick and safe time available and used sick and safe time.
Minnesota OSHA and COVID-19 Recordkeeping & Reporting Standards
In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued the emergency temporary standard (ETS) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the ETS required certain recordkeeping and reporting provisions for workers providing healthcare or healthcare support. The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("MNOSHA") adopted these recordkeeping and reporting provisions, including COVID-19 log and reporting provisions.
While the federal ETS requirements have been withdrawn, MNOSHA adopted these reporting and recordkeeping provisions in November 2022. As a result, employers with 10 or more employees must establish and maintain a COVID-19 log and record each instance in which an employee is COVID-19 positive, regardless of whether the positive result is connected to exposure at work. Further, Minnesota employers must report to MNOSHA each work-related COVID-19 death within eight hours of the employer learning of the fatality. Employers are also required to report each work-related COVID-19 in-patient hospitalization within 24 hours upon learning of the same.
Minnesota THC Legalization
Effective July 1, 2022, persons can lawfully purchase and consume edible and drinkable products containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound in marijuana. The newly enacted statute allows persons to purchase edible and drinkable products that contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC per serving and no more than 50 milligrams per package. Nothing in this new statute affects drug testing conducted pursuant to federal law such as the U.S. Department of Transportation's drug and alcohol testing regulations.
The new statute does not outline what protections, if any, applicants and employees who test positive for marijuana due to the consumption of a lawful THC product have at their disposal. However, the applicant and employee can provide an explanation for a positive drug screen based on the lawful consumption of a THC product. This consumption of a lawful THC product could be further protected under Minnesota' Lawful Consumable Products Act, which protects the consumption of lawful consumable products outside of an employee's work hours.
As a result of this, employers should carefully examine their current drug and alcohol testing policies and determine if they wish to continue drug screens for marijuana. Employers can prohibit employees from consuming lawful THC products and being under the influence of such during their work hours. Accordingly, the policy language should reflect these notable changes as a result of this recent legalization of THC edible and drinkable products.
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