In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, the CDC has recommended that everyone take steps to protect themselves and their communities, including avoiding close contact with others. If you have to take time off work sick or your workplace is closed, what are your legal rights? If your child’s school is closed, can you stay home with your children?
Find out more about your earned sick and safe time rights in Minneapolis, Minnesota below. Please note that you may also have an additional right to emergency paid leave for COVID-19 purposes under federal law, as described in more detail here.
1) What does the Minneapolis Earned Sick and Safe Time law do?
It gives workers sick time that can be used to recover from physical/mental illness or injury; to seek medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; to care for a family member who is ill or needs medical diagnosis, treatment, or preventative care; when the worker’s place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency; if the worker or a family member is the victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; or to accommodate the worker’s need to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected closure.
Additionally, the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights released administrative guidance clarifying that sick time can also be used for certain COVID-19 related reasons, including:
- Coronavirus screening;
- Care or quarantine due to coronavirus symptoms or infection; or
- Testing or quarantine following close personal contact with a coronavirus infected or symptomatic person.
2) Am I covered?
If you work as an employee in Minneapolis for at least 80 hours in a year for an employer, you are probably covered, whether you are a full-time or part-time worker. However, the law does not cover federal employees, state employees, independent contractors, or a few other narrow groups. Note that there are special provisions for how employers can satisfy the law’s requirements for construction employees.
3) How much sick time can I earn?
You earn 1 hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked. Workers can earn up to 48 hours of sick time per year per year. You can carry forward unused sick time and continue to earn sick time up to a total of 80 hours at any time.
For workers in businesses with 6 or more employees, this sick time must be paid. For workers in businesses with 5 or fewer workers, employers are only required to provide unpaid, job-protected sick time.
Until July 1, 2022, new employers, other than certain chain businesses with a new location, only have to provide unpaid, job-protected sick time in their first 12 months of operation after hiring their first worker.
All covered employees are protected against being fired or punished for using their sick time (including threats, discipline, demotion, reduction in hours, termination, etc.).
4) What if my work or my child’s school or daycare is closed for a health emergency?
You can use your sick time if your place of business is closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency or to care for a child whose school or childcare provider has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency. You can also use your sick time to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water, or other unexpected closure.
5) Which of my family members are covered by the law?
Under the law, you can take sick time to care for yourself or a child, parent; parent-in-law; spouse; registered domestic partner; grandchild; grandparent; sibling; or another member of your household.
6) What if I already have paid leave or paid time off?
If you already get any paid leave (vacation, paid time off, etc.) that you can use as sick time for the same purposes and under the same conditions of this law and it’s at least the same amount you would earn under this law, the law does not give you any additional paid time off.
7) When can I begin using my sick time?
You start earning sick time immediately after you begin employment and can start using it 90 days after the start of your employment.
8) Do I need a doctor’s note?
An employer may require reasonable documentation that the sick time is covered by one of the law’s purposes, but only after more than 3 consecutive days of absence.
All covered workers are protected against being fired or punished for using sick time. If you have a problem—or want more information—call A Better Balance’s free legal clinic at 1-833-NEED-ABB.
The Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights is in charge of enforcing this law.
Please note that this fact sheet does not represent an exhaustive overview of the paid sick time law described, and it does not constitute legal advice. It is possible that additional provisions not described in this fact sheet may apply to a worker’s specific circumstances or category of employment.