The City of Minneapolis and the City of Saint Paul have issued their preliminary rules regarding their respective safe and sick leave ordinances, which are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017. These preliminary rules provide additional clarity and guidance on how the ordinances will be interpreted and applied.

The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance requires employers with at least six employees to provide paid sick and safe time leave to employees who work in the City of Minneapolis.

The Saint Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance requires all Saint Paul employers to provide earned sick and safe time to employees working in the city.

A key announcement in the preliminary rules is that both the City of Minneapolis and the City of Saint Paul will not be enforcing their respective ordinances against employers that physically reside outside of their respective cities. Both ordinances were drafted broadly so as to potentially cover employers that physically reside outside of the cities, but the Hennepin County District Court’s temporary injunction, issued in January 2017, prohibits the City of Minneapolis from enforcing its ordinance against any employer based outside the geographic boundaries of the city. The City of Minneapolis has appealed that order, but will abide by the decision in the interim. Likewise, the City of Saint Paul will limit the scope of its ordinance to employers physically located within its boundaries.

Following are other highlights from the preliminary rules.

Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

  • Employees only accrue Sick and Safe Time for hours worked while physically located in Minneapolis.
  • Time spent traveling through the City do not count toward the 80-hour requirement for coverage under the ordinance or for the accrual of Sick and Safe Time if the employee makes no stops for work purposes or makes only incidental stops not considered to be duties or functions of the job.
  • Employees who attend a convention, conference, training, or educational class in Minneapolis, but perform no other work in the city, are not covered by the ordinance.
  • Employees who are otherwise covered by the ordinance are covered regardless of their immigration status.

 Saint Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

  • Employees working from home (or otherwise telecommuting) are covered by the ordinance if their employer has a physical location in Saint Paul and the employee is working in Saint Paul.
  • Salaried employees accrue Sick and Safe Time based on their expected hours worked per week, up to 40 hours.
  • For employees who are scheduled for on-call shifts, if they are compensated for scheduled time, regardless of whether work is performed, then employers must calculate accrual of Sick and Safe Time based on all hours the employee is scheduled. If employees are paid only if work is performed, then employers may calculate accrual of Sick and Safe Time based only on hours actually worked.
  • For employees who are scheduled to work a shift of uncertain length, the employer may determine payment of Sick and Safe Time based on hours worked by a replacement employee.
  • If an employee uses all paid leave under a general paid time off (PTO) policy for a reason unrelated to Sick and Safe Time, the employer does not need to provide additional leave for Sick and Safe Time under the ordinance.
  • When there is a pattern of abuse of Sick and Safe Time by the employee, the employer may require reasonable documentation to verify that an employee’s use of Sick and Safe Time is consistent with the ordinance.
  • Temporary workers supplied by a staffing agency located outside the city and working for a contracting employer within the city are not subject to Sick and Safe Time.

FAQs, Online Resources

In conjunction with their preliminary rules, the cities have provided answers to frequently asked questions, workplace posters, and other tools to help employers determine if they are covered by the ordinances, as well as to track the accrual of employee leave.

The preliminary rules, FAQs, and other materials can be found here:

The rules and FAQs are open for public comment until May 1, 2017. Employers should monitor developments as changes may be made following the public comment period and before the ordinances go into effect.

But Wait…State Preemption

This year, the Minnesota legislature introduced “statewide preemption bills” that would prevent local governments from adopting their own wage and benefit ordinances, such as the paid sick leave ordinances passed by Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Several states already have statewide preemption laws in effect, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana. Others state are considering preemption bills this legislative session.

The preemption bill passed in the Minnesota House of Representatives in March 2017, and the Minnesota Senate passed its companion bill in April. A compromise bill will be sent to Governor Mark Dayton for him to sign the bill into law or veto it.

Stay Tuned

As it stands, both ordinances will be effective July 1, 2017, although things could change significantly given the pending appeal of the Hennepin County District Court temporary injunction, the preemption legislation, and additional feedback from the cities after the public comment period closes.

Nevertheless, it is important for employers to review their current PTO and sick leave policies to determine compliance with the ordinances in their current form.