New Minneapolis Ordinance Guarantees Paid Sick and Safe Time Leave for Employees

07/20/2016 / Phyllis Karasov and Victoria M. Dutcher

On May 27, 2016, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously approved the Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, which guarantees paid sick and safe time leave for employees working within Minneapolis city limits. The new ordinance will take effect July 1, 2017. While a year remains before affected businesses and organizations must comply with the new ordinance, its sweeping changes will require employers to begin planning in short order. Employers should review existing paid time off and sick leave policies in light of this ordinance.
Which Employers Are Impacted?

  • The ordinance applies to all employers with at least one employee working within the city limits of Minneapolis even if the employer is located outside Minneapolis.
  • Employers who employ at least six individuals, even if five of those employees work outside of Minneapolis, are required to provide their employees with paid sick and safe leave under the new ordinance.
  • New employers established within five years of the ordinance’s effective date, July 1, 2017, will be given a one-year grace period, during which they can provide unpaid sick leave rather than paid sick leave. No such grace period is provided for employers established prior to July 2017.

Which Employees Are Impacted?

  • The ordinance applies to full-time, part-time, and temporary employees who work at least 80 hours per year within the city limits of Minneapolis.
  • If an employee works for an organization with five or fewer employees, the employees are entitled to unpaid sick leave. If an organization has six or more employees, those employees are entitled to paid sick and safe time leave.
  • Employers who employ construction workers who are paid “a prevailing wage rate for all hours worked,” regardless of working on public or private projects, are not considered employees under the ordinance.
  • Construction apprentices who are registered with the Department of Labor and Industry and are paid in accordance with “prevailing wage and apprentice wages” are not considered employees under the ordinance.
  • The ordinance does not consider independent contractors employees.

Areas of New Leave Time Ordinance that Deserve Attention

  • Employers are required to provide employees with one hour of sick or safe time leave for every 30 hours of work in the city of Minneapolis. Employees may earn up to 48 hours of paid sick leave each year.
  • Employers do not have to allow employees to hold more than 80 hours of paid leave at any given time.
  • Although employees can start earning paid sick leave at the beginning of their employment, employers can disallow use of accrued days until employees have worked for the employer for a total of 90 days.
  • Employers who employ individuals who work part-time in the city of Minneapolis are required to track the number of hours those individuals are working in the city of Minneapolis to determine coverage under the new ordinance.
  • The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is charged with enforcing this ordinance and will investigate any relevant claims made against employers.
  • Employers are required to comply with ordinance-specific recordkeeping, including employees’ accrual of sick and safe time leave.
  • The ordinance allows employers and represented workers to participate in the collective bargaining process and to develop “alternative means” of meeting the ordinance goals.
  • Employers are required to disclose information related to employee rights and remedies dictated by this ordinance in any handbooks distributed to employees.