By Grace Quintana | Law Clerk
In May 2016, Minneapolis became the first Midwestern city to require almost all private businesses to provide paid sick and safe time to their employees. The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance went into effect on July 1, 2017. Just six months later, in January 2018, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) settled its first case under the ordinance, requiring the employer to pay its former employee $11,000 for failing to provide sick time. MDCR’s recent settlement should send a message to employers and employees alike that there are serious consequences for employers that fail to provide sick and safe time. While the City has mostly responded to violations of the ordinance by issuing warnings and mediating disputes in the first year since its enactment, MDCR will begin punishing violators of the ordinance with fines beginning in July 2018.
The ordinance requires employers to provide sick and safe time, which can be used to seek treatment for a medical condition or provide care to a family member. It can also be used to seek services for domestic abuse or sexual assault. Employers are required to provide all employees who work at least eighty hours in a benefit year with sick and safe time. Employees accrue the time at a rate of one hour for every thirty hours worked. Employers may cap the amount of time accrued at forty-eight hours per year. Although the ordinance establishes the minimum amount of sick and safe time an employer must provide, an employer can always choose to provide its employees with more time.
The ordinance also applies to almost every private employer within the geographical boundaries of Minneapolis. Employers with five or fewer employees must provide sick and safe time but they can choose to provide it unpaid. Employers with six or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time. Because most employers are covered by the ordinance, and most employees work more than eighty hours in a benefit year, the ordinance provides broad protection to Minneapolis workers.
If your employer does not provide sick and safe time, you can report it to the MDCR Labor Standards Enforcement Division here.