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The Minnesota legislature got busy this year. Changes to Minnesota’s pregnancy and parenting leave, lactation and pregnancy accommodations, and city minimum wages, as well as marijuana legalization, a noncompete ban, and new prohibitions on so-called captive audience meetings become effective imminently. Employers would be wise to pay close attention to implementation dates for these laws.

July 1, 2023

Much of the legislation takes effect July 1. Employers need to act now to ensure compliance.

Minnesota Pregnancy and Parenting Leave

As a recap, the Minnesota Pregnancy and Parenting Leave (MPPL) law requires that employers provide 12 weeks of unpaid leave if the employee needs leave for a pregnancy-related condition or upon birth or adoption of a child. The leave must be taken within one year of the child being brought home.

This law formerly applied to companies with 21+ employees. Employees formerly needed to work at least one half of the employer’s fulltime hours and have worked for the employer for at least one year before being eligible for leave. Now, these requirements are gone.

Beginning July 1, this law applies to all employers, regardless of size, and to all employees, immediately upon hire. This leave is protected and comes with job-reinstatement requirements.

As a result of these changes, the employee’s MPPL will not necessarily qualify for FMLA leave. If the employee takes the leave before one year of service, before reaching the FMLA hours requirement (1,250 hours), or the employer has fewer than 50 employees, the employee’s MPPL leave will not qualify for FMLA leave. Therefore, the employee could be eligible for FMLA within the same year they take MPPL. Employers must track these leaves carefully and comply with their policy’s 12-month FMLA period.

Required Action: Educate managers, HR personnel and leave/policy administrators on the new law. Update leave policies immediately.

Pregnancy and Lactation Accommodations

Small changes to the language of this Minnesota law may have a big effect on your business. Pregnant employees are now entitled to:

  • More frequent or longer restroom, food and water breaks;
  • More frequent or longer break periods;
  • Temporary leaves of absence; and
  • Modification in work schedule or job assignments.

Employers may not claim undue hardship when an employee requests: (1) more frequent or longer restroom, food and water breaks; (2) seating; and (3) limits on lifting over 20 pounds. Employers must inform employees of their rights to pregnancy accommodations at the time of hire and when an employee enquires about or requests parental leave. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry will develop the required notice. Additionally, employers who maintain a handbook must include a policy in their handbook that informs employees of their “rights and remedies” under this law.

Employers may no longer require lactating employees to run their lactation breaks concurrently with break time already provided. Instead, such breaks may run concurrently. The location provided by employers for lactation breaks must be “clean, private and secure.” Both laws now include anti-interference and retaliation provisions.

Required Action: Educate managers and HR personnel on the new law. Review and update policies immediately. Watch for the updated notice from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) and provide to employees as required.

City Minimum Wage Increases

Each of the Twin Cities will again raise minimum wages for employees on July 1. Minneapolis minimum wage for large businesses (101+ employees) increased to $15.19 on January 1, 2023. On July 1, small business (100 of fewer employees) minimum wage increases to $14.50/hour.

Saint Paul has numerous minimum wage rates, based on the size of the employer. Macro businesses (10,001+ employees) increased to $15.19 on January 1, 2023. On July 1, 2023, these minimum wages apply:

  • Large Businesses (101-10,000 employees) - $15.00/hour.
  • Small Businesses (6-100 employees) - $13.00/hour.
  • Micro Businesses (1-5 employees) - $11.50/hour.
  • Youth Training (youth workers under the age of 20 in a city-approved youth-focused training or apprenticeship programs) - $11.05/hour.

Required Actions: Employers should update not only their payroll, but also their minimum wage posters, if needed. Written notice must be provided to any employees receiving a pay adjustment. Minneapolis employees must sign this notice. Employers must keep a copy of these notices.

Noncompete Ban

We previously detailed this new law and steps employers should take to comply.

August 1, 2023

Marijuana Legalization

The new law legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults in Minnesota includes language that will affect all employers—not just those that drug test. The law contains very limited prohibitions employers can include in their drug-free workplace policies. The law allows employers to “discharge or discipline an employee for cannabis flower, cannabis product, lower-potency hemp edible, or hemp-derived consumer product use, possession, impairment, sale, or transfer during working hours, on work premises, or while operating an employer’s vehicle, machinery, or equipment,” or if the employer is required to take such action under federal or state law or regulations, or if the failure to discharge or discipline would cause the employer to lose money or any licensing-related benefit under federal law or regulations.

While employers have some latitude in the reasons they may prohibit THC products, if applicable, they may only limit “use, possession, impairment, sale or transfer.” These prohibitions may only apply during working hours, on work premises and while operating the employer’s vehicle.

Additionally, employers may not refuse to hire an applicant or discipline or terminate an employee based on the “use or enjoyment of lawful consumable products, if the use or enjoyment takes place off the premises of the employer during nonworking hours.” The law makes THC products “lawful consumable products.” Because of the length of time that THC stays in a person’s system, THC drug tests will be extremely difficult to act upon. Instead, employers can continue to rely on employee behavior to assess impairment during work hours.

Required Actions: Update drug-free workplace and drug testing policies to meet these new requirements. Work with drug testing lab to ensure cannabis testing is only performed on appropriate applicants and employees.

Captive Audience Meetings Ban

Minnesota has also joined a few states that ban “captive audience meetings.” Employers may not take any action against employees “because the employee declines to attend or participate in an employer-sponsored meeting or declines to receive or listen to communications from the employer or the agent, representative or designee of the employer if the meeting or communication is to communicate the opinion of the employer about religious or political matters.”

Importantly, the law defines “political matters” to include all the matters you would expect, but also includes meetings about “the decision to join or support any political party or political civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization.”

Required Actions: Employers should implement a policy encompassing this ban to ensure management and employees are aware.

Industry-Specific Updates

Minnesota also enacted legislation that creates a nursing home workforce standards board, new ergonomic requirements for certain employers, wage theft protections for construction employees, and other industry-specific requirements.

Additional Laws

Minnesota also enacted a state-wide Earned Sick and Safe Time law, effective January 1, 2024, and Paid Family and Medical Leave, effective January 1, 2026. We will provide additional details about these laws closer to their implementation dates.

Minnesota’s new and updated laws are wide-spanning and require numerous changes to employers’ policies and practices. Contact any member of Fredrikson’s Employment, Labor & Benefits Group to assist you in complying with Minnesota law.

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