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February 2022: Minnesota Amends Lactation Breaks, Pregnancy Accommodations Provisions

Update Applicable to:
All employers in the state of Minnesota

What happened?
The state of Minnesota amended lactation breaks and merged pregnancy accommodations.

What are the details?
Lactation Breaks
Effective January 1, 2022, employers are required to provide employees who need to express breast milk for their infant child with reasonable break times each day. The amendment prohibits employers from reducing an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk.

Additionally, the amendment limits an employer’s obligation to the 12 months following the child’s birth.

Pregnancy Accommodations
The amendment also merged the provisions governing lactation breaks and pregnancy accommodations into one section, Minnesota Statute Section 181.939. This means beginning January 1, 2022, employers with at least 15 employees (previously, 21 employees) are covered under the pregnancy accommodations provision.

Additionally, there is no longer any length of time or an average number of hours per week an employee must satisfy to qualify for the accommodation rights and protections under the statute.

For more information, please see the links below:

Minnesota Statute Section 181.939

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers may want to review their policies and practices on lactation breaks to ensure that they are providing the paid break time required under Minnesota’s amended law.

Employers with between 15 and 20 employees might want to review their pregnancy accommodations policies to ensure that they are providing accommodations in compliance with the law, which now applies to them.

Minnesota OSHA Adopts Federal OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard

Update Applicable to:
All employers with 100 or more employees in the state of Minnesota

What happened?
On January 3, 2022, Minnesota’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MNOSHA) adopted the federal OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) published on November 5, 2021.

What are the details?
Effective immediately, employers with 100 or more employees are required to develop, implement, and enforce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policies, with an exception for employers that adopt policies requiring employees to be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear face coverings at work in lieu of vaccination.

MNOSHA also adopted federal OSHA’s ETS enforcement guidance. Following federal OSHA’s timeline, MNOSHA will exercise enforcement discretion and not issue citations for noncompliance with any ETS requirements until January 10, 2022, and “it will not issue citations for the testing requirements until February 9, 2022, so long as businesses are making ‘good faith’ efforts to implement the rules.”

For more information, please see the links below:

Minnesota State Register

OSHA ETS (November 5, 2021)

OSHA ETS Enforcement Guidance

Article 1Article 2

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review the links provided above and take steps to comply with the ETS and, at minimum, be able to show “‘good faith’ efforts” to implement the rules to avoid potential citations.

September 2021 Minnesota HR Legal Updates

Minnesota’s Minimum Wage Increasing to $10.33 an Hour

Update Applicable to:

All employers in Minnesota.

What happened?

On August 19, 2021, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry announced an increase to the minimum wage rate.

What are the details?

The increase to the minimum wage rates will be effective January 1, 2022. The rate increase will be dependent on certain factors. The increased minimum wage rates are as follows:

  • Large employers must pay at least $10.33 an hour when an employer’s annual gross revenues are $500,000 or more.
  • Small employers must pay at least $8.42 an hour when an employer’s annual gross revenues are less than $500,000.
  • The training wage rate, $8.42 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 20 years of age for the first 90 consecutive days of employment.
  • The youth wage rate, $8.42 an hour, may be paid to employees younger than 18 years of age.

The notice of the minimum wage increase can be read here.

What do employers need to do?

Employers should review the information and update their payroll processing policies to be in compliance once the increase becomes effective.

August 2021 Minnesota HR Legal Updates

Duluth Passes Ordinance on Expanded Leave Usage

Update Applicable to:
All employers in Duluth, Minnesota.

What happened?
On July 19, 2021, Mayor Larson signed Ordinance #21-023-O into law.

What are the details?
The ordinance, effective August 19, 2021, will expand the covered uses of leave under the Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Ordinance and amends employer notice and enforcement provisions.

Once in effect, employees will be able to use leave when they lose work hours when their place of employment closes for public health reasons (a covered use with particular meaning during COVID-19). Other pre-existing reasons employees can use leave includes illness, injury, or health condition (and diagnosis, care, or treatment thereof), preventive medical care, and for reasons connected to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

Employers that maintain employee handbooks will need to include a copy of the company’s ESST policy or, if the employer has a substantially equivalent paid leave benefit to comply with the ordinance, a copy of that equivalent paid leave policy.

Employers must display or provide the city-created poster to employees or provide a company-created notice that advises employees of their rights under the ordinance. The amendments allow employers to comply with this notice requirement by providing new employees a copy of their ESST or substantially equivalent paid leave policy.

In addition to other legal or equitable relief available, the city will order employers to provide employees with written notice of a violation and the corrective action taken.

The ordinance can be found here.

An article detailing the ordinance is here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should review their paid leave policies and employee handbook (if applicable) to make any changes needed due to the Ordinance. The law firm, Littler Mendelson P.C., recommends that employers also monitor the city’s ESST webpage for updates to the rules or other generally applicable or COVID-specific FAQ the city publishes.

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