Uff da! MN Legislature Recap

Uff da!

In the Minnesota history books, this Minnesota Legislative will go down as one of the most remarkable sessions ever.  With the slimmest of margins, the Legislature made significant changes to schools, gun regulation, infrastructure, and nearly every other aspect of the state.

For employers, it was a big session too.  Here are some of the significant highlights:

1.         Paid sick and safe time.  Modeled after the Minneapolis Ordinance, employers will be required to pay 1 hour of sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked by every employee in the state regardless of employer size or whether the employee is full or part-time.  Yes, there’s a cap at 48 hours accrued per year.  Yes, you can cap at 80 hours of accrued time at any one time.  Yes, you can frontload it. No, you don’t have to pay it out at separation.  Yes, most PTO programs are going to be compliant already, but please take a quick look to make sure.  Requirement goes into effect January 1, 2024.

2.         Ban on noncompetes.  This one was a sneaky change.  Only the House version of the bill got a hearing, but the ban got into the Senate Omnibus bill and then it was off to the races at the end of the session.  Some of the biggest employers in the state tried to lobby for it to not pass, but it did.  No more noncompetes as of July 1, 2023.  Sure, the old ones are theoretically enforceable, but not really practically. 

3.         Paid medical and family leave.  Yes, this is a really big deal!  But not until 2026, so for the haters of this, slow your roll please.  Like the 13 other states (and DC), this unemployment-like program has a ramp-up period while the state gets its poop in a group organizing the program.  Yes, employers will pay a tax (like unemployment) for the program, but even the tax does not go into effect until January 2026.  Employees will get up to 12 weeks of family leave and 12 weeks of medical leave (up to 20 weeks total) per year. 

4.         Marijuana legalization.  Yes, Minnesota accidentally legalized THC last session, but now the full bud got its due.  No, employers may not test for THC at pre-employment.  No, an employer may not discipline or terminate for use off work site and off work time.  Yes, employers can discipline for possession and use during work but be careful about drug testing as the tests can’t tell who is high when.  (Don’t believe testing companies. They’re not ready for primetime on this issue.) Train managers on what “ready to work” looks like and it doesn’t look like being drunk or high.  Discipline for that.  Requirements or prohibitions go into effect August 1, 2023.

5.         Salary history question ban.  Like the noncompetes, this one almost snuck by me. Amending the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the ban is designed to stop perpetuating the discriminatory wage gap (like gender, race, intersectional, etc.). Employers will have to take a look at their applications, train hiring teams not to ask the question in interviews or screens, and talk to those pesky managers who might be tempted to ask.  Requirement goes into effect January 1, 2024.

6.         Lactating employees.  The Legislature also made some modifications to the accommodation requirements for lactating employees. Nothing too major (like modified work schedules and temporary leave), but a new notice requirement will be new and a draft of what needs to be explained will come from the Department of Labor and Industry.  This change is explicit – a policy must be in handbooks.  Requirement goes into effect July 1, 2023.

So, what does this all mean?  Take a look at your handbook folks.  There may be some tweaks in your future!