Business concerned about MN paid vacation, paid time off bills – Detroit Lakes Tribune


DETROIT LAKES — The Minnesota House has passed legislation and is considering another that has shaken up some in the business community but will be helpful to part-time workers and others who need paid vacation time or are not currently receiving paid time off for sickness or time off.

The more controversial of the two is a bill that would give workers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave per year, paid weekly. This time can be taken either all at once or on a reduced schedule depending on your needs.

It would cover workers who need time off for a range of reasons including serious medical issues affecting themselves or family members, pregnancy, bonding with the new baby after birth or adoption, residential care and other reasons.

This includes, for example, safety leave, i.e. working leave due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking of the applicant or a family member of the applicant.

The bill is generous in defining eligible family members for sick leave. It includes the usual family members – spouse, children, parents – and goes well beyond to include step-grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, all sorts of in-laws, foster children and those who fall under legal guardianship. In fact, the bill includes “any other person related by blood relationship or affinity whose connection to the applicant amounts to a familial relationship.”

That pretty much covers all the bases for employees and is alarming for many employers.

Beneficiaries shouldn’t expect to get rich from the program: the payment is based on the state’s average weekly wage, which according to YCharts as of January 31, 2003, was about $881.

The average weekly wage is moving, but using the $881 example, paid vacation would be 90% of your regular wage if you’re making less than $440 a week.

If you make between $440 and $881, paid vacation would be 66% of your regular pay.

And if you’re making over $881 a week, paid vacation would be 55% of your regular pay.

That’s far from full coverage, but better than nothing in a traffic jam.

The program would be funded by companies and workers. For example, for an employee making $45,000 per year, the business owner would pay 0.07% of that, or about $315, into the new plan.

The company could then charge half of that cost back to the employee, so each would pay $157.50 per year. The employee’s share would be withheld from their paycheck over the course of a year.

Employees earning minimum wages would not have to pay their 50% share, as this would put their actual wage below the statutory minimum wage.

Paid Leave Scheme Won’t Be Cheap: The bill will provide $1.7 billion to the Department of Employment and Economic Development in fiscal 2024. The money would go into a fund to pay benefits, hire staff and administer the new program.

The bill requires companies to regularly submit payroll data, which is largely private information but available to federal, state and county fraud, tax, social and crime investigators for lawful purposes, as well as the state health and and educational staff are available for legitimate purposes.

DEED pays for the administration of the new program by paying a percentage of the projected benefit payments.

From July 1st to December 31st, 2025, DEED may spend up to 7% of the expected benefit payments to administer the new program.

From January 1, 2026, DEED can spend up to 7% of the projected benefit payments for that year to run the program.

The bill thwarts small businesses by making small business grants of up to $5,000 per year available to businesses with 50 employees or fewer. A grant of up to $3,000 would be available if the employer hires a temporary worker to replace an employee who is on family or medical leave for seven days or more.

For an employee’s family or medical leave, grants of up to $1,000 would be available to reimburse significant additional payroll-related costs resulting from the employee’s leave.

Two of the bill’s sponsors — Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, and Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth — did not respond to phone messages and emails asking for comment Wednesday.

However, Carrie Johnston, president of the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce, said that “some of the concerns we’re hearing is cost, that’s the biggest factor — not just for employers, but for employees.”

The next biggest concern is that the bill makes no provision for smaller businesses. “There are no exceptions to the rule — as written, there could be some big implications for smaller companies.”

The Chamber’s position is that paid family and medical leave should be left to individual companies. Some companies compete for employees and offer paid vacations as an incentive to work there, she said. “It’s good to have some flexibility,” she said. “But this (bill) is sort of a one-size-fits-all program.”

The Detroit Lakes Chamber has affiliated with United For Jobs MN, “an organization that’s been looking at exactly this,” she said. “We would recommend companies to take a close look at (the bill),” she said. “Be knowledgeable, call your legislators. Some like it, some don’t, but they should be aware of it and the impact it can have on their business.”

The bill is going through committee and has not yet been voted on by the whole House. The Companion Bill has also not had a full Senate vote.

Earned bill for sick and safe time

However, a separate piece of legislation — The Earned Sick and Safe Time Bill — passed the House on February 23.

It allows employees to get one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked, up to a total of 48 hours per year.

If this paid time off is not used in a year, it rolls over to the next year – up to a total of 80 hours.

Employers have the flexibility to offer better benefits, but not worse, and workers who are not entitled to overtime accumulate paid time off based on a 40-hour week.

So how can paid time off be used? The list is long and includes physical and mental health issues, caring for a family member (even during a weather emergency), and absences due to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

It also gives workers the right to use paid time off when they have health concerns or are awaiting test results in the event of a declared contagious health emergency such as COVID-19.

Employers may require up to seven days’ notice if taking paid time off is foreseeable, or as soon as possible if not. However, a company must have a written policy to require such notification.

Retaliation by an employer against an employee who takes earned paid time off is prohibited, and medical information about an employee or their family, and information about domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking is confidential.

The bill also has some teeth: Employers must provide labor records to the state if requested, and face a fine of up to $10,000 if they don’t. There is also a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation and per employee for employers who violate a state compliance order.

The bill provides $1.5 million in fiscal 2024, $2.2 million in fiscal 2025, and $1.9 million in fiscal 2026 for enforcement and other duties related to earned sick leave and safety time .

Other appropriations in the bill include one-time amounts of $300,000 in 2024 and 2025 for grants to community organizations.

And Christmas came early for the Ninth Circuit: The bill also includes $494,000 in fiscal 2025 for a new “judge unit” in the Ninth Circuit, to be priced at $461,000 per year beginning in 2026.

This 17-district judicial district includes Hubbard, Mahnomen, Clearwater, Cass, Crow Wing and Norman counties.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *