Earned Sick and Safety Leave Law

December 11, 2023  |  David R. Schaps

Minnesota’s new Earned Sick and Safety Time Leave Law (ESST) is approaching, and Minnesota business owners need to have policies in place and prepared to go live on January 1, 2024.

Employers must provide each employee in Minnesota with at least one hour of paid sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours of accrued ESST a year. An employee is anyone who works at least 80 hours a year for an employer in Minnesota and is not an independent contractor.

An employer’s existing leave policy, such as paid time off (PTO), may already fully or partially meet Minnesota’s earned sick and safe time requirements.

 Local ordinances such as those in Bloomington, Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul may also affect the requirements to provide ESST leave time and differ from the new State requirements.

Please note that an important part of the new law is that employees do not have to live in Minnesota to be eligible for ESST accrual but must work at least 80 hours in Minnesota in a year to be eligible; time worked in Minnesota will apply to ESST accrual. If an employer is based in Minnesota but has employees who work in another state, those out-of-state employees are not covered by Minnesota’s ESST law.

Reasons to Use Your Safe and Sick Time

Employees can use their earned sick and safe time for reasons such as:

  1. the employee’s mental or physical illness, treatment, or preventive care;
  2. a family member’s mental or physical illness, treatment, or preventive care;
  3. absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or a family member;
  4. closure of the employee’s workplace due to weather or public emergency or closure of a family member’s school or care facility due to weather or public emergency; and
  5. when determined by a health authority or health care professional that the employee or a family member is at risk of infecting others with a communicable disease.

In addition, employees may use earned sick and safe time for the following family members:

  1. their child, including foster child, adult child, legal ward, child for whom the employee is legal guardian, or child to whom the employee stands or stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent);
  2. their spouse or registered domestic partner;
  3. their sibling, stepsibling, or foster sibling;
  4. their biological, adoptive, or foster parent, stepparent, or a person who stood in loco parentis (in place of a parent) when the employee was a minor child;
  5. their grandchild, foster grandchild, or step-grandchild;
  6. their grandparent or step-grandparent;
  7. a child of a sibling of the employee;
  8. a sibling of the parents of the employee;
  9. a child-in-law or sibling-in-law;
  10. any of the family members (1 through 9 above) of an employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner;
  11. any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship; and
  12. up to one individual annually designated by the employee.

Finally, employers must provide notice to all employees that includes at least the following information:

  • employees are entitled to ESST;
  • the amount of ESST they will accrue;
  • the accrual year for the employee (as set by the employer);
  • the terms regarding when employees may use ESST;
  • a copy of any existing written policy regarding employees providing notice to use ESST;
  • an explanation that retaliation for requesting or using ESST is prohibited; and
  • an explanation that employees have a right to file a complaint or to bring a civil action if ESST is denied or if employees are retaliated against for requesting or using ESST.

Contact Barna, Guzy & Steffen

If you have any questions on implementing the new ESST program in your organization, including drafting and working through the new ESST policy requirements, or any of the myriad of employment-related 2023 Minnesota legislative changes, please do not hesitate to contact experienced BGS Employment Law Attorneys Scott Lepak and David Schaps.