Minnesota Labor Laws

Minnesota labor laws require employers to provide specific labor standards for their employees’ protection, depending on the number of workers within the organization and other factors. The legal requirements are for minimum wage, overtime, meals and breaks, sick leave, holiday leave, and more.

Minimum Wage

The minimum wage in Minnesota is currently:

  • $9.50 per hour for an employer earning $500,000 or more for gross annual sales or business
    • Considered a “large employer” under Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Increased in August 1, 2016 from $9
  • $7.75 per hour for an employer with gross annual sales or business under $500,000
    • Considered a “small employer” under Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act
    • Increased in August 1, 2016 from $7.25
  • $7.75 per hour is the training wage for the first consecutive 90 days of employment for workers under 20 years of age
    • New employees cannot displace permanent or present workers who earn the training wage
  • $7.75 per hour is the minimum wage for an employee under 20 years old

Types of employees who are exempt from Minnesota’s minimum wage are:

  • Taxicab drivers
  • Volunteers at nonprofits
  • Babysitters
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • U.S. Department of Transportation workers
    • Drivers, driver assistants, mechanics, and loaders
  • Elected government officials

Overtime

Employers must pay employees overtime at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate when they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek (7-day period), as per the federal Labor Standards Act, except if they are an exemption. Those who are exempt from overtime wages in Minnesota include administrative, professional, and executive employees meeting the state and federal guidelines.

Also exempt from the overtime wages in this state are retail and service workers paid by commission, provided that their regular rate of pay is more than 1.5 times the minimum wage. Other exempt positions are outside salespeople, as well as commercial vehicle dealership workers (specifically salespeople, parts people, and mechanics) paid on a commission or incentive basis. Specific agricultural workers are also exempt from overtime wages in Minnesota.

Meals and Breaks

As per Minnesota labor laws, an employer must provide employees with bathroom time and enough time to eat a meal. The mealtime obligation is for any employee working 8or more hours consecutively. For a break under 20 minutes, the employer must pay the worker. Also, the time to use the closest restroom must be given in each 4-hour consecutive hours of work.

Vacation Leave

Under Minnesota labor laws, an employer is not responsible for providing employees with vacation benefits, whether they are paid or not. If an employer does elect to give vacation leave benefits, it must be done as per the terms of the employment contract or policy. If an employer wishes, he or she can put a policy or contract into place that denies employees payment of any vacation leave accrued upon leaving employment with this company.

An employer can also lawfully create a policy or enter a contract that disqualifies workers from being paid accrued vacation upon separating from employment if the employee doesn’t meet certain obligations, such as giving 2 weeks of notice or being employed by a certain time of year. If, however, the existing work policies or contract requires the employer to pay accrued vacation to an employee then this employer must pay it.

An employer can also put a limit on the amount of vacation leave time accrued over time, provided the employees have signed contracts or written statements saying they agree to this policy. This is a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy that typically requires employees use their vacation leave within a certain time period or they will lose it; to be enforceable, the employees must have agreed to it via written policy.

Sick Leave

Minnesota labor laws do not require employers to give employees sick leave benefits, whether paid or not. That being said, an employer can decide to provide its employees with sick leave benefits, as long as they are in compliance with an existing policy or contract of employment. If personal sick leave is allocated by the employer then it has to enable employees to use their accrued sick leave to care for a sick child or injured child.

Unpaid sick leave may be a requirement for an employer, depending on whether the employer meets the leave guidelines under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or another federal law. Plus, an employer must follow the Parental Leave Act of Minnesota.

Holiday Leave

Private employers:

  • Don’t have to give employees holiday leave (paid or unpaid), as per Minnesota labor laws.
  • Can make an employee work during a holiday.
  • No need to pay premium wage to an employee, such as the overtime of 1.5 times the usual rate, for working a holiday.
    • Except when the employee qualifies for overtime as per that regular overtime legislation.

An employer who decides to offer employees holiday leave, whether paid or unpaid, must follow the conditions of the existing employment contract or policy.

Jury Duty Leave

An employer is under no obligation to pay an employee any wage for time spent on jury leave, whether it be serving on a jury or complying with a jury summons. An employer cannot threaten, pressure, discharge, or give a penalty to a worker who complies with a jury summons or serves on a jury.

Voting Leave

Employers must allow employees time off work to vote in an election, according to Minnesota labor laws, and pay the employees while they take the time off needed to do so. If the employer does not do so then this is a misdemeanor by law. The covered elections under Minnesota Stat. 204C.04 are:

  • A regularly scheduled election (state primary or general)
  • To fill a vacancy within:
    • The office of the United States rep
    • The office of the United States senator
  • To fill a vacancy in nomination for a constitutional office
  • To fill a vacancy within:
    • The office of the state rep
    • The office of the state senator
  • A presidential nomination primary
    • As per chapter 207A

Severance Pay

Minnesota employers bear no responsibility for severance pay to employees under state labor laws. Should an employer choose to give severance benefits, this must follow the terms of the policy or employment contract that exists in the organization.

How Do I File a Wage/Hour or Labor Standards Claim in Minnesota?

Any wage and hour complaints fall under the Minnesota Labor Standards Division of the Department of Labor and Industry (DLI). To formally make a complaint, an employee must contact Labor Standards by telephone and undergo the filing process. This department then reviews the grievance and decides what action to take from there. Full detail of employee rights is available online at the Department of Labor and Industry.

Deadline in Labor Claims

For a complaint regarding wage per hour, there are strict guidelines as to how much time you have to file the claim with the DLI after the alleged event occurs. Thus, meeting with a lawyer or contacting the DLI ought not to be delayed.

How Can I or My Attorney Pursue a Claim in Court in Minnesota?

An employee can bring a claim to court to:

  • Gain unpaid wages.
  • Get back lawyer fees and expenses.
  • Receive liquidated damaged in an extra equal amount of the unpaid pay.

State Labor Agency

The Minnesota Labor Agency is in St. Paul (main office) and Duluth. Their contact information is:

  • St. Paul

Address: 443 Lafayette Road North, 55155

Phone: (651) 284-5005 or toll-free 1-800-342-5354

Email: DLI. LaborStandards@state.mn.us

Hours: 8 am to 4:30 pm

  • Duluth

Address: Located within Minnesota OSHA and Workers’ Compensation

Suite 330, 525 Lake Avenue South, 55802-2368

Phone: (218) 733-7830

Fax: (218) 725-7722

Hours: 8am to 4:30pm

Discrimination/Harassment – State Agency

Contact is the Minnesota Department of Human Rights in St. Paul at:

Address: 625 Robert Street North (Freeman Building), 55155-4307

Phone: (651) 539-1100 or toll-free 1-800-657-3704 or TTY 1-800-627-3529

Fax: (651) 296-9042

Minnesota Department of Human Right (MDHR) Agency Description/Mission

The mission of MDHR is to half unlawful discrimination and encourage equal opportunities between all people of Minnesota. The MDHR offers leadership across the state to stamp out discrimination and intergroup struggle. To educate and inform the public about their rights and obligations under the Human Rights Act is what the MDHR dedicates itself to do.

Discrimination/Harassment – Local Offices of Federal Agency (EEOC)

The contact information for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is:

Address: Suite 720, 330 South Second Avenue (Minneapolis Area Office, Towle Building), 55401-2224

Phone: 1-800-669-4000 or TTY 1-800-669-6820

Fax: (612) 335-4044

Safety & Health (Workplace Health & Safety Complaints and Information)

There are various offices for the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry:

  • Minnesota OSHA, St. Paul:

Address: 443 Lafayette Road North, 55155-4307

Phone: (651) 284-5005 or toll-free 1-800-470-6742

Fax: (651) 282-5405

  • Minnesota OSHA, Duluth:

Address: 525 Lake Ave. S., Suite 330Duluth, MN 55802-2368

Phone: (218) 733-7830

  • Minnesota OSHA, Mankato:

Address: 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 1650Mankato, MN 56001-7706

Phone: (507) 304-6262 or 1-877-470-6742

Email: OSHA.Compliance@state.mn.us

Minnesota OSHA (MNOSHA) Agency Description/Mission

The Minnesota OSHA’s mission is to ensure every employee in the state has a safe, healthy work environment. Minnesota OSHA is also known as MNOSHA, and it devotes itself to assisting people in Minnesota with improving workplace health and safety. Its services include consultations, outreach, and enforcement.

Unemployment Insurance

For unemployment insurance, contact Minnesota Department of Economic Security at:

5th Floor, 390 North Robert Street, St. Paul, 55101

Phone: Teleclaim: Twin Cities Metro (651) 296-3644 or Greater Minnesota: (877) 898-9090

TTY: Twin Cities Metro (651) 634-5062 or Greater Minnesota: (877) 360-1919

Wage and Hour/Labor Standards Violations

For this type of complaint, contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Labor Standards Office. It is open 8 am to 4:30 pm. The contact details are:

Address: 443 Lafayette Road North, 55155

Phone: (651) 284-5005 or toll-free 1-800-342-5354

Email: DLI.LaborStandards@state.mn.us

Wage and Hour/Labor Standards – Local Offices of Federal Agency (DOL)

Regarding this type of grievance, contact the U.S. Department of Labor, ESA Wage & Hour Division. The Minneapolis District Office is located at:

Address: Suite 920, 331 Second Avenue South (Tri-Tech Center), 55401-2233.

Workers’ Compensation (For Job-Related Injuries or Illness):

Contact the Division of Workers’ Compensation within the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry at:

Address: 443 Lafayette Road North, 55155-4319

Phone: (651) 284-5232 or toll-free 1-800-342-5354

Email: DLI.LaborStandards@state.mn.us

Essentials of Minnesota Employment Law

Employees have both state and federal legal protections from unlawful hiring practices from when they are job applications through to termination.

Hiring Practices

In Minnesota, the want ads for employment, as well as the decisions regarding hiring, can only be based on the applicant’s skills and how compatible the applicant is for the job. Employers cannot consider personal qualities, including:

  • Race
  • Disability
  • Sex
  • National origin

Also, employers cannot question applicants about:

  • Marital status
  • Children
  • Arrest record

A Minnesota employer can ask an applicant with a disability if he or she requires an accommodation to carry out the essential job functions of the position for hire.

Workplace Safety

Federal legislation and Minnesota labor laws both require that workplaces be safe and free of danger for every employee. If an employee speaks up about a safety violation, he or she is allowed to protection. Thus, this person can report this violation anonymously.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

The majority of Minnesota employees have to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. This is a no-fault system for employees injured while on the job or who get an occupational illness.

Included in workers’ compensation insurance is:

  • Payment of:
    • Prescriptions and medical bills
  • Compensation for loss of wages
  • Disability payments
  • Death benefits to qualified survivors
  • Vocational rehab

As for how much to pay, this is guided by state legislation. In some cases, employees do not enjoy coverage by workers’ compensation laws. These exceptions are:

  • Employed family members
  • Low-wage farm workers
  • Independent contractors

Family and Medical Leave Act

Employers must abide by the federal FMLA if his or her business has at least 50 qualified employees. Public and state employers must also provide qualified employees protections under the FMLA. “Qualified” refers to those employees who worked 1,250 hours (at minimum) in the last year. These covered workers can take 12 weeks off work for 12 months specifically to care for a family member, newly adopted kid, or a newborn.

The FMLA leave and time off guidelines also apply to workers who themselves suffer significant medical conditions. If an employee requires time off to care for a military family member, the time allotted is up to 26 weeks. Under Minnesota laborlaws, if the company has 21 employees or more then employees can take up to 6 weeks for the care of a recently adopted kid or a newborn.

Harassment Laws

Employees are protected from workplace harassment under both federal and Minnesota labor laws. Examples of harassment are sexually explicit:

  • Comments
  • Drawings
  • Jokes
  • Emails that create a hostile work environment
  • Photos

Also, employers and supervisors are prohibited by law from:

  • Making threats
  • Intimidating activities
  • Unwanted physical contact
    • Including offensive gestures, sexual contact, or activities related to gender, race, disability, or national original

If conduct is continual or pervasive, then the employer may face legal consequences. An isolated event or just teasing do not count as harassment by law. Also, an employer cannot demote, discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee because of harassment or the employee’s reaction to it. Included here is an employee who resigns voluntarily due to a hostile workplace.

Legal and Wrongful Termination

In Minnesota, employers and employers can end their employment relationship whenever they freely choose to do so. This means that employers can fire a worker for any legal reason if there is not a written contract or if the contract states that employment is at will. Unlawful reasons for firing an employee include harassment, discrimination, age, work-related injury, work-related illness, and pregnancy.

No federal laws exist regarding pay during vacation. Minnesota labor laws don’t require that employers pay accrued vacation pay to workers when they are fired or discharged; the exception is if there is an employment contract or policy in place that says otherwise.

Unemployment and COBRA

For an employee (resident or in-state) to meet unemployment guidelines, he or she must actively seek work and be able to work. As per federal law, employers with 20 or more full-time employees must enable discharged employees the right to continue group health benefits for as long as 18 months. In Minnesota, a mini-COBRA law exists that requires employers with at least two full-time workers to provide coverage for as long as 18 months from when group coverage ends.

Consult an Employment Attorney

As Minnesota labor laws are complicated, a specialized employment lawyer can answer questions you have about the laws affecting you.

Understanding the Minnesota Labor Laws for Breaks

It is integral to understand the Minnesota labor laws regarding breaks, whether as an employer or employee in this particular state. This is integral so that employees fully understand their legal protections, thus avoiding scams and pitfalls, and so that employers know how to follow legal guidelines across the state.

The Workweek

As per Minnesota labor laws, the workweek does not relate to whether an employee is part-time or full-time. As per this state’s labor laws, a workweek usually is a fixed and recurring period of 168 hours and 7 consecutive periods of 24 hours. If an application indicates that it is for a standard workweek, this is what it refers to. A full-time worker would usually have a workweek of 48 hours, with a shift being 8 hours, typically.

Nursing Mother Breaks for Breastfeeding

Nursing mothers can take breaks that the employer provides for her to eject breast milk for a child or children. Under Minnesota labor laws, employers must offer a place for nursing mom to do so. This space has to be something other than a toilet stall.

School Visit

Employees can take unpaid leave up to 16 hours under Minnesota legislation for:

  • Classroom activities
  • School conferences
  • Child care
  • Early childhood programming

An employee is also allowed to use vacation time for school visits. If the employer has 2 or more employees, then he or she must enable employers up to 16 hours of unpaid leave within 12 months for attending school-related events for their kids.

If you are unsure as an employer about which federal and Minnesota labor laws apply to you, or if you are an employee who wants to learn more about your legal protections, an employment attorney can help you. Find an experienced lawyer who specializes in Minnesota legislation when you post your legal need withinUpCounsel’s Marketplace. The lawyers in this Marketplace are graduates of esteemed schools, including Yale Law, work for huge firms across the country, and have an average of 14 years of legal experience.