Friday, April 14, 2017

Status Update - Minneapolis and St. Paul Sick and Safe Time Ordinances

A lot has happened since our last blog posts on the Minneapolis paid sick leave ordinance and the St. Paul paid sick leave ordinance. While the initial implementation dates for both ordinances are still scheduled for this summer on July 1, 2017, a Hennepin County District Court issued a temporary injunction in January 2017 prohibiting the City of Minneapolis from enforcing the Minneapolis ordinance against any employer based outside the geographic boundaries of the city. The Hennepin County District Court decision is being appealed by the City of Minneapolis. Nonetheless, the injunction will apply to both the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances until a final decision is rendered on the appeal. Furthermore, legislation is advancing through the Minnesota legislature that would preempt local employment laws like these ordinances.

Additionally, both the “City of Lakes” and “The Most Livable City in America” have issued proposed rules for public comment dealing with the implementation of their respective ordinances. The proposed rules provide helpful guidance for employers seeking to understand how to comply with the ordinances. The following are some of the proposed rules that apply to both the Minneapolis ordinance and the St. Paul ordinance:
  • Employers must keep records and bear the ultimate burden of proving which employees do not qualify for paid sick and safe time.
  • Employers in both cities are not required to offer paid sick and safe time leave to covered employees for hours worked outside of the city. While many employers may adopt a universal policy that simply grants all employees the minimum amount of leave regardless of the location of the work performed, employees technically only accrue paid sick and safe time leave for hours worked within the respective city limits.
  • Employers may satisfy the requirements of both ordinances by adopting a general paid time off policy which lumps sick and safe time with other paid leaves as long as the policy meets the minimum ordinance obligations.
  • Complaints under both ordinances must be filed within one year of the violation.

In addition, the proposed rules for the Minneapolis ordinance make clear that it applies to all covered employees, regardless of their immigration status. The Minneapolis ordinance does not generally apply, however, to employees who attend conventions, conferences, trainings, or classes in the City of Minneapolis, if no other work is performed within the City. The City of Minneapolis has also published a helpful frequently asked questions document and an employer checklist.

The proposed rules for the St. Paul ordinance include substantially more guidance than that for the Minneapolis ordinance. The proposed rules clarify that the ordinance does not apply to independent contractors or temporary staffing agencies, but that telecommuting employees are covered if their employer and telecommuting location is based within St. Paul. Helpfully, the St. Paul proposed rules clarify that salaried employees accrue paid safe and sick time leave based on their expected hours worked each week only up to 40 hours. The St. Paul proposed rules also discuss numerous other topics, including how employers should deal with minimum leave usage, accrual for on-call or seasonal employees, the compensation rate for tipped or commissioned employees, recordkeeping, and notice requirements. The City of St. Paul has also published a frequently asked questions document and additional helpful documents.

Both these rules may be revised, as necessary, following public comment periods ending May 1, 2017.

Given the approaching implementation date, employers should analyze their current PTO policies to determine the amount of revisions, if any, that will be needed to comply on July 1. That is, unless the whole ordinance is enjoined or the preemption bill is signed into law. Either way, we will continue to keep you informed.

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