Several laws were enacted making changes to employment law and requiring employers to post or provide notice of various laws to employees.
Several new laws were enacted in the 2023 legislative session that impact employers, and of which cities should be aware.
Chapter 3 is a new law that adds a definition for race to the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The definition provides that “race” is inclusive of traits associated with race, including hair texture and hair style. The Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in housing, education, and employment. Chapter 3 went into effect on Aug. 1, 2023. The League’s model personnel policy (doc) (Section 1.03 EEO Policy Statement) has been updated to reflect this protection.
Inquiries into pay history prohibited
Chapter 52 is the omnibus public safety and judiciary bill, which contains a provision that prohibits employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations from inquiring into, considering, or requiring disclosure of the pay history of an applicant for employment for the purposes of determining wages, benefits, salary, or other compensation.
Applicants are allowed to voluntarily, and without asking or prompting, disclose their pay history for the purposes of negotiating wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation. If an applicant does voluntarily provide a pay history to the employer for this purpose, the employer is allowed to consider that voluntarily disclosed salary history information to support a wage or salary higher than what was initially offered.
The prohibition on inquiries into pay history does not prohibit an employer from providing information about the wages, benefits, or salary offered in relation to a position or from inquiring about or otherwise engaging in discussions with an applicant about the applicant’s expectations or requests with respect to compensation.
This new law goes into effect Jan. 1, 2024. For employment covered by collective bargaining agreements, the law is not effective until the date of implementation of the applicable collective bargaining agreement that is after Jan. 1, 2024.
Public Employment Relations Board
Chapter 53 is the omnibus jobs, economic development, labor, and industry bill, and includes provisions related to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The PERB was reestablished in 2014 to hear unfair labor practices (ULPs) claims filed by employees, employers, and labor unions under the Public Employment Labor Relations Act (PELRA). However, ongoing, sufficient funding was not provided after the initial appropriation. As a result, jurisdiction over ULPs was temporarily transferred back to the district court until July 1, 2023, when it reverted back to the PERB.
Chapter 53 provides full and ongoing funding for the operations of the PERB. The new law also sets out and clarifies applicable Open Meeting Law and data practices provisions for the PERB. A responsible authority is allowed to disseminate personnel data to the PERB to the extent that they determine it is necessary to implement PELRA or if dissemination is ordered by the PERB.
Generally, data submitted to the PERB are classified as nonpublic or confidential data prior to being admitted into evidence at a hearing. The filing date of the ULP, names and job classification of charging and charged parties, the provisions of law alleged to have been violated, and complaint issued by the PERB are public data.
The new law also provides that the Open Meeting Law does not apply to meetings of the PERB when it is deliberating the merits of a ULP charge, reviewing recommended decisions and orders of a hearing, or reviewing decisions of the Bureau of Mediation Services relating to unfair labor practices.
Right to be absent for voting
Chapter 62 is the omnibus state government finance bill and contains various provisions related to elections. One provision expands the right of employees to be absent from work for the time necessary to vote to include voting during the early voting period. Early voting has been established for the 18 days leading up to an election, in which absence from work under this provision is authorized. This went into law on July 1, 2023, and applies to elections occurring in 2023. The League’s model personnel policy (doc) (Section 12.17 for Elections and Voting) has been updated to reflect this change.
Employer retaliation and pregnancy accommodations
Chapter 53 is the omnibus jobs, economic development, labor, and industry bill, and contains a section regarding required accommodations for pregnancy, lactation, and nursing.
The law removes previous language limiting the right to reasonable break times to express milk to the 12 months following the birth of the employee’s child. Breaks may run concurrently with break times already provided. Employers cannot deny break times, even if it would unduly disrupt the operations of the employer. Employers must provide a clean, private, and secure location for employees to express milk.
The law also expands the statutory list of example reasonable pregnancy accommodations to include a temporary leave of absence, a modification to work schedule or job assignment, and more frequent or longer breaks.
This law previously only applied to employers with 21 or more employees, but now applies to all employers regardless of size. The League’s model personnel policy (doc) (Section 12.21 for Reasonable Work Time for Nursing Mothers) has been updated to reflect this change.
Chapter 5 was enacted to designate June 19 of each year as Juneteenth. The law amends Minnesota Statutes, section 645.44, subdivision 5 by adding Juneteenth as a holiday in which no public business shall be transacted, except in cases of necessity. This law went into effect on May 25, 2023.
Chapter 62 changed the name of Christopher Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. This holiday remains optional for political subdivisions to observe, but any agreement between a public employer and an employee organization citing the holiday should be amended to cite “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
Postings or notices required by employers
- Pregnancy and nursing accommodations. A provision in Chapter 53 requires all employers to notify all employees of the rights of pregnant and lactating employees when hiring, when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave, and in an employee handbook if one is provided. The notice must be in English and the primary language of the employee. This notice is required as of July 1, 2023. A sample notice is available on the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries’ website.
- Rights related to employer-sponsored meetings. A provision in Chapter 53 limits employers’ ability to require that employees attend certain meetings related to unionization and political or religious matters. Employers are required to post (and keep posted) employees’ rights under this new law beginning Sept. 1, 2023. View a sample posting that meets the requirements of the new law (pdf).
- Posting of veterans’ benefits and services. A provision in Chapter 53 requires employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees to display a poster created by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industries in a conspicuous place accessible to employees in the workplace, containing various benefits and services available to veterans. This posting is required beginning on Jan. 1, 2024. A poster will be available on the Department of Labor and Industries’ website.
- Earned sick and safe time. A provision in Chapter 53 requires all employers to provide a notice to employees of earned sick and safe requirements and remedies under the law. The notice may be posted at the work location, provided in a paper or electronic copy to the employee, or posted online or in an app. Rights and remedies under this law must also be included in any employee handbook. This notice is required by Jan. 1, 2024, for all employees and any new start to employment after. A sample notice will be available on the Department of Labor and Industries’ website. An employer can also create their own notice, provided that it includes all of the required content.
- Paid family and medical leave. Chapter 59 requires employers to post notice, prepared by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, regarding the rights and benefits under this chapter, beginning Nov. 1, 2025. The notice will be available closer to the date in which the requirement goes into effect.
Other employment law changes
In addition to the changes described above, the Legislature passed several other laws related to labor and employment that cities should be aware of.
- A new law requires employers to provide earned sick and safe time to employees beginning Jan. 1, 2024.
- A new law establishes a statewide paid family and medical leave program to begin Jan. 1, 2026 with certain actions required by employers in 2024.
- A new law also makes changes to Minnesota’s Public Employment Labor Relations Act.
- A new law aims to curb the number of public safety officials who leave their professions as a result of mental injuries, effective July 1, 2023.