Minneapolis, St. Paul Issue Sick and Safe Time Rules

04/18/2017 / Phyllis Karasov and Nic Puechner

Minneapolis and St. Paul each issued rules and a collection of frequently asked questions (FAQ) April 1, further clarifying the implementation of each city’s sick and safe time ordinance. The ordinances, which guarantee paid earned sick and safe time for employees working within the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2017.

The rules and FAQs issued by Minneapolis and St. Paul both contain the following points of clarification:

  • An employee otherwise qualified for paid sick leave under the ordinance is covered regardless of immigration status.
  • An employee performing job duties within St. Paul is covered by the ordinance for all hours worked in the city, as long as the individual performs more than 80 hours of work in the city within a calendar year, subject to the injunction issued against the city of Minneapolis, described below. However, hours spent traveling through the city when the employee otherwise performs no job duties there, or only incidental stops not considered to be duties or functions of job, are not covered.

Minneapolis Injunction
On January 19, a Hennepin County Judge granted a temporary injunction that limited the Minneapolis sick and safe time ordinance to businesses located in Minneapolis. The judge’s order temporarily prevents the ordinance from going into effect for businesses based outside of the city.

The ordinance is broad in its reach and before the injunction it applied to all employers with at least one employee working within the city limits of Minneapolis. As a consequence of the injunction, the city has been enjoined from enforcing the ordinance against any “employer resident outside the geographic boundaries of the City of Minneapolis.” However, this particular wording creates new uncertainty for some businesses with employees working inside the city limits.

The injunction clearly states that Minneapolis is temporarily enjoined from enforcing the ordinance against employers located wholly outside the city. However, it does not clearly state whether employers headquartered outside the city with branch offices, stores, or plants inside the city are subject to the ordinance. The order contains verbiage hinting that this category of employers may be subject to the ordinance if the city can demonstrate there is a “sufficient nexus” between the ordinance’s “reach beyond the city’s borders and the harm it is intending to prevent.” But in the absence of any additional verbiage in the district court order or any additional clarification or guidance from the city, we interpret the injunction to mean that employers located wholly outside the city limits, even if they employ workers inside Minneapolis city limits, are outside the scope of the ordinance. However, employers with branch locations within the city are covered by the ordinance. 

City officials are currently challenging the district court’s injunction at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Additionally, the district court has not decided the merits of the case yet; it only issued the injunction that is currently on appeal. The district court has noted that a hearing on the merits is forthcoming, and the city notes that the temporary injunction order will be enforced until further action by the courts.

St. Paul Ordinance Clarification
For the purpose of the sick and safe time ordinance, St. Paul defines “employer” as “any person, firm, or corporation that hires one or more employees and has a physical location within St. Paul.” This is an important clarification in light of the recent temporary injunction issued against Minneapolis.

Public Comment Deadline
Officials in both Minneapolis and St. Paul are accepting public comment until May 1, after which each city may revise or clarify its guidance before the enactment date of July 1, 2017.

If you question whether your business is subject to either city’s sick and safe time ordinance in light of the injunction, or if you have any other questions, please contact one of our employment law attorneys.

Pending State Legislation
Legislation was introduced in both the Minnesota Senate and House of Representatives that is intended to preempt municipal sick and safe time ordinances. The Uniform State Labor Standards Act passed in the House of Representatives on March 2. The companion bill, S.F. 580, has yet to be voted on by members of the Senate.