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 St. Paul, 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 St. Paul 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; to address needs that may arise if the worker or a family member is a victim of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; 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; 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.
2) Am I covered?
If you work as an employee in St. Paul 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, or independent contractors. 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. You can earn up to 48 hours of paid sick time 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.
However, until January 1, 2023, new employers can opt to provide unpaid, job-protected sick time to workers in the first six months 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 any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with you is the equivalent of a family relationship.
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?
Only after absences of more than 3 consecutive days (and the note does not have to specify your illness) and only if the documentation requested by your employer is reasonable. In light of COVID-19, administrative guidance explains that it would not be reasonable for an employer to request a doctor’s note if a health care provider tells a worker to stay home rather than coming in to the doctor’s office and risking exposure or spread of potential illness.
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 St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity 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.