July 19, 2013

New MN sick leave law takes effect Aug. 1 – are you ready?

Posted in Care of Relatives Leave, Caregiver Leave, Family and Medical Leave Act, Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Family Leave, Leaves of Absence, Sick Leave, Sick or Injured Child Care Leave tagged , , , , , at 2:27 pm by Tom Jacobson

sick day

Effective August 1, 2013 many Minnesota employers will need to update their policies to comply with the state’s new sick leave law.

In the past Minnesota’s Sick or Injured Child Care law required employers with 21 or more employees at one site to allow employees to use personal sick leave for absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child on the same terms the employee was able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury. Leave under this law could be limited to the reasonable amount of time the employee’s attendance with the child was necessary.

However, on May 24, 2013 Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a significant expansion of these leave rights.  Specifically, the new law provides that:

An employee may use personal sick leave benefits provided by the employer for absences due to an illness of or injury to the employee’s child … , adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent, for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance may be necessary, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.

The title of the law also changed to the Sick Leave Benefits; Care of Relatives Law.

So, effective Aug. 1, in addition to being able to use sick leave to care for a child, a Minnesota employee working for a covered employer may also use sick leave to care for these other relatives specified in the law.

The law does have limits, however.  For example, it only applies to employees who have worked at least half time for a covered employer for at least 12 months prior to their request. And, not all children are covered by the law, for only those children under 18 years of age (or under 20 if still attending secondary school) are considered children for the purposes of this law. Also, the law does not require an employer to provide sick leave at all. But, employers who do provide a sick leave benefit will need to allow it to be used for the care of the relatives listed in the law.

What you need to know:  Minnesota employers are not required to provide a sick leave benefit for their employees. However, effective Aug. 1, 2013 employers who are covered by the Care of Relatives Law (that is, employers with 21 or more employees at one site) must allow eligible employees (employees who have worked at least half time for a covered employer for at least 12 months prior to their request) to use any sick leave that is provided to care for their children and the additional relatives now listed in the law. Employers who are also covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will have the added burden of coordinating FMLA leave and state Care of Relatives Leave when leaves of absence qualify under both laws.

For more information about this article, please contact me at alexandriamnlaw.com or  taj@alexandriamnlaw.com.

The comments posted in this blog are for general informational purposes only. They are not to be considered as legal advice, and they do not establish an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, please consult your attorney.

Copyright 2013 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA

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2 Comments »

  1. Clifford said,

    How does this new law effect State of Minnesota employees and their contract language? It is my understanding that this law takes supercedes contract language if it is more gracious in allotted time and coverage of who sick leave may be utilized for. Is this true?

    • Tom Jacobson said,

      Clifford, the new law includes a provision that says, “This section does not prevent an employer from providing greater sick leave benefits than are provided for under this section.” So, I would argue that the statute sets a minimum standard, meaning that a contract could provide for greater, but not lesser, benefits.


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