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Minnesota employers need to be prepared for Jan. 1, when a new law requiring paid sick and safe time (PSST) goes into effect. This law applies to all employers in Minnesota, even if the company has only one employee. It also applies to all employees, including part-time employees. Employers in several of the state's larger cities have already had to comply with similar ordinances, but the state law applies from border to border.

Employees must accrue at least one hour of PSST for every 30 hours worked. Unused time rolls over to the next year, with employees allowed to bank up to 80 hours. The time can be used for an employee's illness, doctor appointments, or to care for a family member. The definition of "family member" is expansive, including parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, partners, nieces, nephews and "up to one individual annually designated by the employee." The "safety" element has to do with time off to obtain protection from domestic abuse. The leave is paid by the employer at the normal hourly rate; retaliation for use is prohibited.

Employers should act now to prepare a written policy and work with their payroll systems to get ready.

The PSST law was part of a bevy of employment laws passed last session. The Minnesota Partial Paid Family and Medical Leave Act does not take effect until Jan. 1 of 2026. Readers should understand that paid sick time and paid family leave are two separate requirements — and they will be in addition to each other.

The paid family leave program will be operated by the state, similar to how it pays unemployment benefits, and will cover a portion of the employee's regular rate, not all of it. Paid family leave will allow up to 12 weeks off per year, or in certain circumstances up to 20 weeks per year, for medical leave, bonding, caring for a family member, safety leave, or a qualifying exigency.

If you add 80 hours of PSST (two weeks), 20 weeks of paid family leave, two weeks of vacation and five paid holidays, employees in Minnesota could be paid, fully or partially, for up to 25 weeks, almost half a year, while not working. I question whether this will be sustainable for smaller employers, not just in cost and administrative burden, but in the effects of absenteeism on operations.

Estimates of the money cost of the family leave program have already been adjusted upward. The payroll tax to be split between employer and employee has been raised from .70% to .78%. In light of new budget forecasts suggesting the days of surplus will be ending in a couple of years, the cost of this program will likely be scrutinized further.

Paid sick leave was not required anywhere in the country until the beginning of this century. Efforts to address this issue are laudable, and all employees deserve time off to care for themselves or others. But I fear the Minnesota Legislature may have pivoted too far and we may need to make a course correction.

V. John Ella is an employment law attorney in Eden Prairie.