Starting January 1, 2024, Minnesota is set to introduce the Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) for employees, encompassing even those who are temporary or part-time, provided they work a minimum of 80 hours per year. This initiative broadens the scope of worker benefits in the state.
It’s crucial to note that ESST doesn’t override existing local paid sick and safe leave laws. In areas like Duluth, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Bloomington, where specific sick leave laws exist, employers must adhere to the most beneficial aspects of each law for their employees. This could mean blending elements from both state and local regulations.
Accrual, Carryover, and Frontloading
Under ESST, employees accrue one hour of leave for every 30 hours worked. For exempt employees, accrual can be based on a 40-hour workweek, or their regular workweek if it’s less than 40 hours. Annual ESST accrual can be capped at 48 hours, with a total accrual limit of 80 hours, and unused ESST must be carried over each year.
Alternatively, employers may opt to frontload ESST at the start of each year, either providing a lump sum of 48 hours (with end-of-year payout for unused time) or 80 hours without a payout requirement.
Usage of ESST
Employees are eligible to use accrued ESST for various reasons, including personal or family health issues, dealing with the effects of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking, and emergencies leading to workplace or school closures. ESST should be provided in the smallest time increments used in the employer’s payroll system, paid at the employee’s regular rate.
Documentation and Notice Requirements
If ESST is used for more than three consecutive days, employers can request reasonable documentation. Specific guidelines can be found on the Minnesota Sick Leave page. Employers must also inform employees about their ESST rights in English and their primary language by January 1, 2024, or upon hire. This notice can be posted visibly, given as a paper or electronic copy, or included in a handbook.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) will provide a sample notice in multiple languages for employers’ convenience.
Earnings Statement and Payout Rules
Employers must detail ESST hours accrued, available, and used during each pay period in employees’ earnings statements. While unused ESST isn’t required to be paid out upon termination, it must be restored if the employee is rehired within 180 days.
Existing Policies and Action Steps
Existing paid leave policies can suffice if they meet or exceed ESST requirements. Employers should:
- Update handbooks with an ESST policy or ensure existing policies comply.
- Distribute ESST notices to new hires and current employees by January 1, 2024.
- Modify earnings statements to reflect ESST accrual and usage from January 1, 2024.
- Regularly review FAQs on the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s website for updates.
This new ESST initiative represents a significant step in enhancing employee benefits in Minnesota, necessitating proactive steps by employers to ensure full compliance.
Lisa Smith, SPHR, SCP
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