Minnesota’s New Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Law

Big news in the world of employment law in Minnesota that you should be aware of: the Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law kicks off on January 1, 2024. This new regulation is designed to benefit employees across the state, ensuring they have access to paid sick and safe time. Let’s break it down and see how it might impact you and your business.

What’s the Big Deal with ESST?

Starting from 2024, if you’re an employer in Minnesota, you’re required to provide paid sick and safe time to your employees. This includes anyone who clocks in at least 80 hours a year for your company in Minnesota, but doesn’t cover independent contractors. The deal is pretty straightforward: for every 30 hours worked, employees earn one hour of ESST, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.

Does Your Current Leave Policy Cut It?

If you already have a leave policy like paid time off (PTO), it might already satisfy the ESST requirements. The main thing to remember is that the existing policy must be as generous as the new law demands.

How Can Employees Use Their ESST?

Employees can tap into their ESST for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Their own or a family member’s illness, treatment, or preventive care.
  • Situations involving domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Closure of their workplace or a family member’s school/care facility due to weather or public emergencies.
  • If there’s a risk of spreading a communicable disease.

What About Employees Working in Different Cities?

Things get a tad more complex if you’re operating in cities like Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, which have their own ESST ordinances. Your responsibility is to follow the rules that are most favorable to your employees.

Front Loading or Accruing ESST – What’s Better?

You can either let your employees accrue ESST over time or front-load it at the beginning of each year. If you choose front-loading, you can provide either 48 hours (with payout of unused hours at the end of the year) or 80 hours (without payout of unused hours). Remember, the ESST year can be a calendar year, tax year, fiscal year, or based on the employee’s work anniversary.

What Happens if Someone Leaves the Company?

If an employee bids farewell, whether they leave voluntarily or not, you’re not obliged to pay out any unused ESST. However, if they return within 180 days, they’re entitled to get their accrued ESST back.

Keeping Records and Spreading the Word

You need to keep track of ESST hours on employees’ earnings statements and retain these records for three years. Plus, you’re required to inform your employees about their ESST rights, including how much they’ll accrue, usage terms, and their right to file a complaint if needed.

What’s Next?

For businesses like ours, adapting to this new law means updating policies, payroll systems, and ensuring all team members are up to speed. It’s all about making sure our valued employees feel supported and safe, while keeping our operations smooth and compliant.

At MD Lewis, we’re committed to staying ahead of the curve with these changes and ensuring our team is well-informed and well-prepared. If you have any questions or need more guidance on how this law affects you, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help navigate these new waters together!

Find the ESST employee notice, FAQs, and other resources at dli.mn.gov/sick-leave.

For any further information or questions, please feel free to contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Labor Standards Division at 651-284-5075 or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.

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