In a move that will have employers throughout Minnesota scrambling to update their employee handbooks, the Minnesota Legislature passed a new law mandating that employers must permit employees to use their personal sick-leave benefits for absences due to an illness or injury of the employee’s relatives (not just the employee and his or her minor children). The new law goes into effect on August 1, 2013.
Specifically, S.F. 840 amends the Minnesota Parenting Leave Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 181.941-181.944, to permit employees to use their employer-provided sick time for “an illness of or injury to the employee’s child . . . adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent.” Previously, the law required only that employees be permitted to use their sick-leave benefits for the employee and the employee’s children.
Under the new law, an employer may limit the use of an employee’s personal sick leave benefits for relatives to no less than 160 hours in any 12-month period. This limit does not apply to absences due to the sickness or injury of a child.
There are two important limitations to the new law. First, the Minnesota Parenting Leave Act applies only to employers with 21 or more employees. Second, the law does not require that employers provide employees sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. But, if they do, employers must permit employees to use these benefits in accord with the new law.
The time for action is now. As noted above, the changes to the Minnesota Parenting Leave Act take effect on August 1, 2013. Prior to this date, employers who offer personal sick-leave benefits must review and revise their employee handbooks and train supervisors on how to comply this new law.