As employment attorneys, we often see employees who need to take time off to care for their loved ones or their own medical issues but are unable to afford the unpaid time available under the FMLA. An employee’s inability to take paid time off in these instances is why as Minnesota employment attorneys we are excited that the Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F. 5. This bill, if it passes the Minnesota Senate and is then approved by the Governor, would allow Minnesota employees who need time away from work to take care of family, medical issues, or because of a newborn, but are unable to afford unpaid leave, can instead take paid leave. The Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F. 5 on March 5, 2020. The House previously introduced this bill in 2019 as part of the Minnesota Values Agenda.
Rights Afforded by H.F. 5
This bill would allow an employee to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off in a 52-week period to care for a sick family member, for an employee to attend to his or her own serious health condition, or to care for a newborn or adopted child. The paid leave would not fully replace the employee’s wages, but instead would provide a partial wage replacement. The proposed minimum weekly benefit would be about $200 with a maximum of around $1,077. Further, the bill would mandate that employees returning from leave would be entitled to reinstatement in an equivalent position.
The Minnesota House proposed paying for this new benefit by requiring employers to pay premiums based on workers’ wages, but the employers could share the cost by deducting up to half of the premiums from employees’ paychecks. Employers that already offer equal or better benefits could opt out. Further, self-employed individuals could opt in to the program.
The Next Steps for MN Paid Family Leave Bill
The Democratic-led Minnesota House passed H.F. 5 by 70-59; however, the Republican led Minnesota-Senate has not yet taken the bill up for a vote. As Minneapolis employment attorneys, we have strongly been advocating local leaders to adopt such an important measure. All too often, we see Minnesota employees who cannot afford to take unpaid leave under the FMLA to care for themselves or others. Contact your Minnesota Senator if you believe Minnesota employees should have access to paid leave to care for their loved ones or take care of their own medical issues. Further, if you have employment law questions related to employment discrimination, medical leave, pregnancy leave, or leave to care for your immediate family, then please contact us, as we are employment lawyers who can help.