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December 8, 2023

Minnesota's new Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Legislation

The Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law presents new requirements for Minnesota employers, as of January 1st, 2024. Understanding these requirements is crucial to ensuring compliance and avoiding potential legal issues. This session walks through the key aspects of the law and provides employers with the knowledge they need to start navigating its implementation effectively.

The ESST law hinges on two fundamental requirements:

"Substantive" Requirement

Employers must provide sufficient paid time off and allow employees to use it for specific purposes. Employers must grant employees at least one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours worked. Alternatively, you can frontload ESST each year, which has more nuance that's covered in the session. In either case, the paid time off must be provided at the employee's regular hourly rate.

"Procedural" Requirement

Beyond ensuring sufficient paid leave, employers must also allow employees to utilize ESST for designated purposes. These include illness, medical appointments, and safety concerns. Importantly, employers are discouraged from inquiring about the specific reason for an employee's absence unless it extends beyond three consecutive days. This "don't ask, don't tell" approach minimizes unnecessary paperwork and upholds employee privacy.

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Implementation

For many employers, the hope is that adapting existing policies to comply with the ESST law will only involve updating the amount of paid time off offered and clarifying acceptable uses. However, for employers who previously did not provide any paid leave to certain classes of workers, implementing a new policy will be necessary to ensure compliance.

Communication

Effective communication is vital throughout the implementation of the ESST law. Employers should clearly inform employees about their rights and responsibilities under the law. This can be achieved through various channels, such as handbooks, training sessions, and company-wide announcements.

By understanding the key requirements of the ESST law and implementing appropriate policy changes, employers can ensure compliance and maintain a positive, supportive work environment for their employees. Remember, this session is intended to provide a general overview of the law, and consulting with legal counsel is always recommended for specific advice and guidance.

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