Public Comment Period Underway

The City of Minneapolis is taking steps to develop an ordinance that, as now proposed, would impose dramatic new requirements for Minneapolis employers related to employee scheduling and earned sick leave. The City Council, backed by Mayor Betsy Hodges, established a workgroup earlier this year to advance a "Working Families Agenda" to develop this new ordinance. The workgroup has issued a set of proposals and the Minneapolis City Attorney is currently drafting a proposed ordinance that would presumably track the proposals. If adopted, the ordinance would impact all employers in Minneapolis (unless a collective bargaining agreement explicitly waives the law) and would require significant changes in the way employers conduct business and manage their employees. A recommendation will be made to the City Council in the 4th quarter of 2015.

The proposals are now open for public comment and employers who wish to comment should do so by contacting workingfamilies@minneapolismn.gov no later than Oct. 16, 2015. In addition to sending comments via email, the following community meetings will be held for open discussion:

  • Lyndale Business Association: Oct. 13, 12 PM–1 PM (at 5th Precinct, 3101 Nicollet Ave S.)
  • Uptown Association with City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10): Oct. 13, 4 PM–5 PM (Apple Store, 2nd Floor Briefing Room, 3018 Hennepin Ave. S.). RSVP by Oct. 8 to info@uptownminneapolis.com.

"Fair Scheduling"

The "fair scheduling" component of the potential ordinance would be a significant game changer for employers. The proposed provisions, among other things, would require employers to give substantial advance notice to employees regarding scheduling, with accompanying rights to employees if the schedule changes. These requirements would be particularly challenging for smaller employers and those with high turnover workforces. Key points include:

  • Advance notice of schedule: Employers would be required to provide employees their shift schedules (including on-call shifts) 28 days in advance, and communicate any changes within 24 hours of making the change.
  • Employee rights if scheduled hours change: An employee would have to consent in writing to take additional shifts/hours, and could decline to work any hours not included in the original schedule—without retaliation.
  • Premium pay for changes to scheduled hours: Employees would receive one hour of "predictability pay" for all employer-initiated changes after the schedule is posted.
  • Protection from last minute schedule changes: If an employer changes, shortens or cancels a shift with less than 24 hours' notice, impacted employees would receive four hours of predictability pay (or the duration of the shift, whichever is less).
  • Required employee consent and rest: Employees must affirmatively consent if their schedule requires more than 55 hours in a week, more than six days in a row, or less than 11 hours between the end of a shift and the beginning of the next shift.
  • New overtime requirements: Employees will earn overtime pay at time and a half for the following: (1) When scheduled less than 11 hours between the end of a shift and the beginning of the next shift; (2) When scheduled for more than six days in a row; (3) For shifts that exceed eight hours a day; and (4) For working more than 55 hours a week (for most employers overtime pay would have already kicked in before 55 hours under federal or state overtime laws).
  • Flexible schedule arrangements: Employers would be required to "promptly evaluate" employee requests for a "flexible working arrangement"—and grant such requests if they are based on the employee's serious health condition, caregiving obligations, educational pursuits, or second job. It is unclear what the definition of "flexible working arrangement" would be or whether there would be any boundaries to what employers would be required to accommodate.

Access to full time work: Employers would be required to offer hours to existing employees before hiring new or temporary employees, and to pay a "retention premium" to discourage "zero hours" schedules. 

Earned Sick Time

The earned sick time proposals would also represent a significant increase in employee rights, since employees currently do not have any rights to earned sick time under state or federal law. Key points include:

  • Employees would accrue earned sick time at the rate of one hour earned for every 30 hours worked. They could use this sick time after 90 calendar days following their first day of work.
  • Employees working for employers with 21 or more employees would have a cap of 72 hours per year of accrued sick time. Employees working for employers with fewer than 21 employees would have a cap of 40 hours per year. Accrued sick time in all cases would be carried over year to year, but would not be required to exceed the cap.
  • Sick time could be used for illness/injury, health condition/medical care, domestic abuse/sexual assault/stalking, care of a family member for any of the above, and during weather or other emergency closure of employee's place of employment or child's school or care center .
  • Employers would be prohibited from requiring an employee to find his or her own replacement to cover hours needed for sick time.
  • An employer would be exempt if its current plan meets the minimum requirements.

The City of Minneapolis' summary of the proposals can be found here:http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/WorkingFamiliesAgenda/WCMS1P-148662