According to recent reports, the Minneapolis City Council is strongly considering imposing new paid sick leave and fair scheduling requirements on all employers within the city. The proposals currently under consideration as part of the “Working Families Agenda” are very similar to the paid sick leave legislation and the fair scheduling provisions of the proposed Working Parents Act that the Minnesota Legislature considered earlier this year, but which did not pass into law. Here’s what employers need to know about the proposal under consideration:
Paid Sick Leave
All employers would be required to offer employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, which employees could begin to use 90 calendar days after starting their employment. The leave would be available for: (i) mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; (ii) the need to seek medical care (including preventive care); (iii) domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; (iv) care for a family member for any of the above reasons; or (v) during weather or other emergency closure of an employee’s place of employment or the employee’s child’s school or care center.
For employers with 21 or more employees, the maximum leave accrued could be capped at 72 hours. For employers with less than 21 employees, the maximum leave accrued could be capped at 40 hours. Unused hours would carry over from year to year. Employers could require at least 7 days’ notice for foreseeable leave and could request documentation to verify absences that last more than 3 consecutive days. The ordinance would allow employees to trade shifts rather than using paid leave. Also, the ordinance would prohibit employers from requiring employees to find replacements for their shifts or from retaliating against employees for using paid sick leave.
Fair Scheduling
All employers would be required to provide employees with at least 28 days’ notice of their work schedule (including on-call shifts) and to provide at least 24 hours’ notice of any changes. Employees would be allowed to decline any hours not in their original schedule without retaliation, and employers would be required to obtain an employee’s written consent to add any additional shifts or hours.
Predictability Pay Requirements: Employers would be required to pay one hour of “predictability pay” for any employer-initiated changes after the schedule is posted. In addition, if any changes are made with less than 24 hours notice, the employer would be required to pay “predictability pay” of four hours or the duration of the shift, whichever is less.
Right to Rest Requirements: Employers would be required to pay time-and-a-half and obtain employee consent for any work that involves less than 11 hours of time-off between work shifts, more than 55 hours in a week, or more than six consecutive days of work. Employers would also be required to pay time-and-a-half for any work time in excess of eight hours per shift.
Non-Discrimination Based on Hours of Work: Employers would be required to offer the same hourly wages, access to time off, and promotions to workers with similar skills and responsibilities, regardless of the hours that the employees are scheduled to work. However, employers would be allowed to pay different hourly wages based on other reasons, such as seniority, merit, job responsibilities, or production.
Right to Request Flexible Schedule: Employees would have the right to request a “flexible working arrangement” at any time, and the employer would be required to evaluate the request promptly. If the request is based on an employee’s serious health condition, caregiving obligations, educational pursuits, or a second job, the ordinance would require that the employer must grant the request, without any exceptions. The ordinance does not define “flexible working arrangement.”
Access to Full Time Work: Employers would be required to offer hours to existing employees before hiring new or temporary employees. Employers would be required to pay a “retention premium” to discourage “zero hours” schedules. The proposal does not explain what this “retention premium” would be.
Worker Protections and Presumption of Retaliation: Employers would be prohibited from firing, demoting, suspending or taking other adverse actions against employees for exercising their rights or assisting others to exercise their rights under the ordinance. If an employer takes any adverse action within one year of protected activity, the employer would bear the burden of proving that the adverse action was not retaliatory.
Exemptions: The only exemptions to the ordinance’s proposed fair scheduling requirements would be for suspension of business activity due to government recommendation, natural disaster, utility failure, or threats to property or employees. The ordinance does not differentiate between exempt or non-exempt employees. Nor does it create any exceptions for undue hardship, the employee’s ability to perform the essential requirements of the job, or business needs.
Takeaway: Employers in Minneapolis who may be impacted by the proposed Working Families Agenda should contact their Minneapolis City Council members and let them know how they feel about the proposed ordinance.