On August 1, 2013, Minnesota’s law (Minn. Stat. § 181.9413) on sick or injured child care leave is changing.

Under the old law, employees could use personal sick leave for absences due to the illness or injury to the employee’s child.  Under the new law, employees may also use personal sick leave for illness or injury to the employee’s adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or step-parent (i.e., “other family members”).  Sick leave for these reasons may be taken for reasonable periods of time as the employee’s attendance with their child or other family member may be necessary.  The new law is called “Sick Leave Benefits; Care of Relatives.

The new law has limits.  First, the law applies to employers who have at least 21 employees at one site.  Second, employers are allowed to cap the number of hours of personal sick leave an employee uses for the illness or injury of other family members.  This cap, however, must be no less than 160 hours of personal sick leave to care for other family members in any 12-month period.  Third, the law only applies to employees who have been employed for at least 12 consecutive months on at least a half-time basis (as defined by the employer’s personnel policies or practices, or a collective bargaining agreement).

Keep in mind that this law does not require an employer to provide sick leave at all.  It only provides requirements if the employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits to employees.  Also, an employer cannot cap the use of personal sick leave used to care for an employee’s child.

Takeaway:  The new Care of Relatives statute broadens the scope of an employee’s use of personal sick leave.  Employers should review their policies on sick leave to determine if revisions are necessary.