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What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?
There is no law that specifically governs the advertising of open positions in Minnesota. However, employers should be careful not to use any language that could be interpreted as discriminatory under state or federal law.
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?
(a) Criminal records and arrests
Minnesota has a “ban the box” law which prohibits all employers from inquiring about, requiring disclosure of, or considering an applicant’s criminal record or criminal history during the initial stages of the hiring process. However, once an employer selects an applicant for an interview or makes a conditional offer of employment, the employer may then inquire about the applicant’s criminal history (Minn. Stat. § 364.021).
State law also mandates that employers of certain employee categories conduct criminal background checks before hiring applicants. These include healthcare workers, public school employees, apartment managers, and employees who have direct contact with persons served by state-licensed programs (Minn. Stat. §§ 144.057, 123B.03, 299C.66 to .71, 245C.03).
(b) Medical history
Covered entities, including employers, labor organizations, and employment agencies, cannot conduct a medical exam or ask a job applicant questions about an employee’s physical or mental impairments or health before making a job offer. Any post-offer inquiry or exam must screen for essential job-related capabilities only (Minn. Stat. § 363A.20, subd. 8).
(c) Drug screening
Minnesota’s Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act is one of the most restrictive drug and alcohol testing statutes in the United States. Employers must have a policy that strictly complies with the act, and any testing must carefully follow the process outlined in the act or else the test will be invalid and the employer may be liable for damages to an employee harmed by an unlawful test. An employee who has a first positive test must be given the chance to complete treatment. In addition, an employee may not be fired for a first positive test unless the employee refuses to seek treatment or fails to successfully complete a treatment program. Testing may be performed in the following circumstances:
- pre-employment testing for applicants;
- with reasonable suspicion;
- treatment program testing;
- routine physical exam testing; and
- random testing for safety-sensitive positions (Minn. Stat. § 181.950-.957).
(d) Credit checks
Minnesota’s Access to Consumer Reports Act (Minn. Stat. § 13C.001 – 13C.04) regulates an employer’s use of credit reports, similar to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Minnesota requires that a prospective employer clearly and accurately notify applicants in writing if they will be the subject of a consumer credit report prepared by a consumer reporting agency. The disclosure must include a box that the applicant can check to receive a copy of the report. Additional notification is required if the report is used to make an adverse decision, such as refusing to hire the applicant. An employer is required to pay for the cost of any credit check on a current or prospective employee.
(e) Immigration status
As of the end of 2015, there is no Minnesota law that restricts an employer’s ability to inquire about the immigration status of a potential employee.
Minnesota requires that any contractor or subcontractor of the state which has been awarded a contract in excess of $50,000 must use the E-Verify federal system to verify employee work eligibility (Minn. Stat. § 16C.075).
(f) Social media
As of the end of 2015, there is no Minnesota law that specifically restricts an employer’s ability to view potential employees’ social media information. However, Minnesota does have a Lawful Consumable Products Act, which generally prohibits an employer from taking any adverse action against an applicant or an employee for the use of lawful consumable products (e.g., alcohol or tobacco) while off the employer’s premises during non-working hours. Thus, employers should be cautious about taking any adverse employment action based on an individual’s lawful use of consumable products which may have been viewed on social media (Minn. Stat. § 181.938).
Employers are also cautioned not to restrict employee use of social media in such a way as to violate the National Labor Relations Act.
Wage and hour
What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?
The Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (Minn. Stat. § 177.21 to 177.35) sets forth minimum wage and overtime payment requirements, exemptions from the act, and required rest and meal breaks under Minnesota law.
What is the minimum hourly wage?
As of the end of 2015, the minimum wage in Minnesota is $9.00 per hour. The minimum wage will rise to $9.50 per hour on August 1 2016. The minimum wage in subsequent years will be set by the commissioner of labor according to a formula set forth in the statute, and a new rate will take effect on January 1 2018 (Minn. Stat. § 177.24, subd. 1(b)).
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
An employer must pay a discharged employee all unpaid wages due within 24 hours of an employee’s demand. An employer that fails to pay within this 24-hour period may be liable for a penalty of up to 15 days of additional wages (Minn. Stat. § 181.13).
An employer must pay an employee who resigns on the first regularly scheduled payday after the final day of employment (Minn. Stat. § 181.14).
An employer generally may not make any deductions from an employee’s wages except as authorized by statute for items such as required tax deductions (Minn. Stat. § 177.24, subd. 4). However, an employer may make deductions for items such as union dues, insurance premiums, group annuities, contributions to a credit union, charity, political action committee, or an employee stock purchase or savings plan, so long as the employee provides a written agreement allowing for the deductions (Minn. Stat. § 181.06, subd. 2).
An employer may generally deduct, without any agreement, the cost of certain uniform and equipment expenses, up to $50, with certain additional restrictions for motor vehicle dealers (Minn. Stat. § 177.24, subd. 4).
An employer must withhold amounts ordered for child support and spousal maintenance, as ordered by law (Minn. Stat. §§ 518A.73, 518.552, 518.58, 518.581).
Minnesota generally prohibits an employer from deducting the value of lost, stolen or damaged property, or any debt owed to the employer, from an employee’s wages unless the employee authorizes the deduction in writing after the loss has occurred or the debt has arisen (Minn. Stat. §181.79).
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
Minnesota law requires that an employer allow each employee a break to use the restroom once every four hours (Minn. Stat. § 177.253).
An employer must allow each employee a meal break for every eight consecutive hours worked, but the break need not be paid (Minn. Stat. § 177.254). The employee must be completely relieved of duties for the purpose of eating a meal; 30 minutes is the amount of time that is typically expected, unless the employer can demonstrate that special conditions justify a shorter time period (Minnesota Rule 5200.0120; Frank v. Gold’n Plump Poultry, Inc., 2007 WL 2780504, *9 (D. Minn. 2007)).
What are the maximum hour rules?
Minnesota has no maximum hour work rules, except for minors.
How should overtime be calculated?
In Minnesota, an employee must receive overtime at one-and-a-half times the employee’s regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 48 in a week (Minn. Stat. §177.25, subd. 1). Because the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in a working week, the 48-hour threshold for overtime under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act applies only to those smaller employees not covered by the act.
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Minnesota exempts executive, administrative, professional and sales employees, like the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (Minn. Stat. § 177.23, subd. 7(6)). Because Minnesota has not adopted the U.S. Department of Labor’s 2004 regulations, the Minnesota regulations implementing white collar exemptions are similar to the pre-2004 Fair Labor Standards Act regulations (Minn. R. §§ 5200.0190 to 5200.0210). Minnesota has also adopted many of the same miscellaneous exemptions as the Fair Labor Standards Act (Minn. Stat. § 177.23, subd. 7).
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
At the end of each pay period, an employer must provide a statement of earnings for that pay period. The statement must include:
- the employee’s name;
- the rate of pay;
- the total number of hours worked, unless exempt;
- the total amount of gross pay earned during the period;
- a list of all deductions from pay;
- the total amount of net pay earned during the period;
- the date the payroll period ends; and
- the legal name of the employer and the operating name, if different from the legal name (Minn. Stat. § 181.032).
Pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 177.30, Minnesota also requires that an employer keep, for at least three years, the following for each employee:
- name, address, social security number, and occupation;
- rate of pay, all deductions, and amounts paid for each pay period; and
- start and end hours worked each day and working week.
Additional requirements are imposed on employers that perform work on a public works project funded at least in part by state funds (Minn. Stat. § 177.30(a)(4)-(5)).
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