All I want for Chritmas is … a New Employee Handbook? Paid Time Off?

Okay, maybe you don’t want a new employee handbook, but if you’re a Minnesota employer you probably need at least an update.  Starting January 1, 2024, all Minnesota employers will be required to provide paid leave to their employees who work in Minnesota at least 80 hours in a year.  Not only do employers have to provide the paid leave (or if they already provide paid leave, make sure it satisfies the new legal requirements), they must also provide employees with a written notice about the paid leave by the end of this year.  The information must also be in the employee handbook.

What is Earned Sick and Safe Time? When and how can it be used?

Minnesota’s Earned Sick and Safe Time (“ESST”) is paid leave that employers must provide for their employees.  It can be used for certain “sick and safe” reasons: for example, (i) when an employee is sick or when the employee needs to care for a sick family member, (ii) for absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking of the employee or a family member, (iii) for absence due to the closure of a family member’s school or care facility because to weather.  Employers can find more information on when employees are entitled to use ESST at the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry website:

Employers may require that employees provide notice of the need to use ESST, but only if the employer has (and distributes) a written policy containing reasonable procedures for when notice is required and how employees can give notice to the employer.  If the need is foreseeable, an employer may require up to 7 days’ advance notice.  If the need is not foreseeable, an employer may require an employee to provide notice as soon as practicable.

How much Earned Sick and Safe Time must an employer provide?   

Employers must provide employees with at least one hour of ESST for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 48 hours each year.  Accrued but unused ESST hours may be carried over from year to year, until an 80-hour maximum accrual is reached.  The total number of ESST hours available for use and the total number of ESST hours used must be listed on an employee’s paystub at the end of each pay period.  Employees must be able to use ESST as it is accrued.

Employers should keep in mind that ESST hours must carry over to the next year unless the employer chooses to “front load” ESST hours.  “Front loading” means that an employer provides an employee with ESST that is immediately available for use.  Instead of accruing the ESST hours as hours are worked, front loaded employees receive their full bank of ESST hours for the year on day one.  Employers that front load 48 hours avoid any requirement to carry over unused time, but must pay employees for any unused time remaining at the end of the year.  Employers that front load 80 hours are not required to carry over unused hours and they are not required to pay employees for any unused time at the end of the year.

Are there new recordkeeping requirements?

Minnesota’s ESST law also includes certain recordkeeping requirements (including tracking earned and used ESST time on employee paystubs or earnings statements) and confidentiality mandates for certain information provided to employers by employees (for example, medical information or medical records).

Are there other 2023 employment law changes affecting Minnesota employers? 

YES!  Minnesota employers have had their hands full with a bevy of new legal restrictions and requirements this year: non-compete agreements are generally prohibited, the legalization of cannabis meant changes to drug testing practices, parenting leave and pregnancy accommodations are now required of all employers (which have additional notice and handbook requirements), and mandatory paid time off programs (ESST and Minnesota’s Paid Family Medical Leave Act which is coming in 2026) are on the horizon.  If you are a Minnesota employer and you aren’t familiar with these new legal requirements, Sanford, Pierson, Thone & Strean, PLC, can help your business navigate these changes.  This includes helping you implement a new ESST paid leave program or tailoring your existing paid leave policy to ensure it meets or exceeds the requirements of Minnesota’s ESST law.