Duluth, Minnesota has become the latest jurisdiction to enact a law providing eligible employees with paid leave for their own medical needs, those of a family member, or other covered reasons.  The Ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2020.

The Ordinance will apply to employers with five or more employees nationwide.  Covered workers in the city of Duluth will be entitled to accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 50 hours worked, up to a total of 64 hours per year, though use of sick leave may be capped at 40 hours per year.  Where such an accrual method is used, employees must be permitted to carry over up to 40 hours of unused sick leave for immediate use in the following year.  Alternatively, employers can satisfy the law’s requirements by front-loading 40 hours of sick leave at the beginning of each year.  Employees may begin using paid sick leave on the 90th day of employment.

An employer that currently offers its employees paid time off (which may include personal, sick, and/or vacation days) that is equal to or greater than that required by the Ordinance, and that can be used for the same purposes and under the same conditions as provided by the Ordinance, may use such time to satisfy its obligations under the Ordinance.

Employees will be able to use paid sick leave for any one or a combination of the following reasons:

  • time needed for diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery from an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury or other health condition, or for preventive medical care;
  • time needed for the employee to care for a family member needing diagnosis, care, treatment, or recovery from the family member’s mental or physical illness, injury or other health condition, or requiring preventive medical care; or
  • an absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of the employee or employee’s family member.

For purposes of the Ordinance, “family members” include an employee’s child, spouse or domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, and “any other individual related by blood or whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”

Employees may be required to comply with the employer’s usual notice and procedural requirements for absences or for requesting leave, provided that such requirements “do not interfere with the purposes for which the leave is needed.”  Paid sick leave may be taken in increments “consistent with the current business/payroll practice as defined by industry standards or existing employer policies,” so long as any such increment does not exceed four hours.  Employers may require documentation of the need for sick leave for absences of more than three consecutive days.

Employers shall be required to provide notice to employees of their entitlement to paid sick leave and their rights under the Ordinance, including an employee’s right to file a written complaint to the city clerk if sick leave required by the Ordinance is denied or the employee is retaliated against for requesting or taking sick leave.  It is unclear whether the city plans to issue a form notice to satisfy this requirement.

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We will continue to report on new developments with regard to this and other paid leave laws around the country as they arise.