Update Applicable to:
All businesses with frontline workers in the state of Minnesota.
On April 29, 2022, Governor Walz signed Standard Form 2677 (SF 2677) into law, which will offer the state’s frontline workers a chance to receive part of a $500 million bonus pool for their dedication and sacrifice during the COVID-19 emergency declared by the state.
What are the details?
Beginning on June 8, 2022, eligible frontline workers may fill out a Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI)-created application form and submit it between June 8 and July 22, 2022, to receive their share of the funds.
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There are several criteria that must be met in order for frontline workers to qualify for the bonus. First, the law limits eligibility to workers in specific job sectors:
- Long-term care and home care
- Emergency responders
- Public health, social service, and regulatory service
- Courts and corrections
- Schools, including charter schools, state schools, and higher education
- Foodservice, including production, processing, preparation, sale, and delivery
- Retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery
- Temporary shelters and hotels
- Building services, including maintenance, janitorial, and security
- Public transit
- Ground and air transportation services
- Vocational rehabilitation
The law also requires that to be eligible, a worker must have been:
- Employed in the job sector for at least 120 hours between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
- Unable to telework due to the nature of their job.
- Working in close proximity to people outside of their homes.
There are also income limits on eligibility. Workers with direct COVID-19 patient responsibilities must have had an adjusted gross income of less than $350,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly or less than $175,000 for other tax filers. For workers without direct COVID-19 patient responsibility, the adjusted gross income limit is $185,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or $85,000 for other filers.
A worker must not have received an unemployment insurance benefit payment for more than 20 weeks, between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021.
Application for Benefits
The frontline worker bonus differs from prior federal programs that made automatic payments to eligible individuals. Instead, the law provides a process for employees to apply for the bonus payments if they believe they are eligible.
The Minnesota DOLI created an application form for the employees to use, and the application process opens on June 8 and should remain open through July 22, 2022. Workers will have a 45-day window in which to apply for the bonus payment.
Employees who apply and are denied will have the opportunity to appeal within 15 days of the denial.
Amount of Bonus Pay
The law creates a pool of $500 million for benefits, and the total amount for each worker will depend on the number of eligible workers who apply for the benefit. Once the application period closes and a final list of eligible workers is identified, the bonus pool will be divided up among all eligible workers.
The law caps potential payments at $1,500 per worker. Early estimates have been that the bonus will result in approximately $750 per worker if all eligible workers apply.
While the program is being administered by the state, employers must give notice in a form approved by the Commissioner of Minnesota’s DOLI and must give such notice “using the same means the employer uses to provide other work-related notices to employees.” You can download the DOLI-approved form in English, Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.
The notice must be at least as conspicuous as:
- posting a copy of the notice at each work site where workers work and where the notice may be readily observed and reviewed by all workers working at the site; or
- providing a paper or electronic copy of the notice to all workers.
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What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the information provided above, provide their employees the links to the application, and provide their employees the required employer notice, and/or post it in a conspicuous location.
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