Minnesota Legislature Moves to Pre-empt Local Sick Leave and Wage Ordinances

By Bruce J. Douglas © Ogletree Deakins Feb 10, 2017

The battle over paid sick leave and minimum wage ordinances at the municipal level moved to the Minnesota Legislature as its 2017–2018 session kicked off at the end of January. Several bills introduced in the 2017-2018 session would either establish a statewide standard for paid leaves or pre-empt and prevent municipalities from passing their own ordinances on these subjects.

H.F. No. 600 and S.F. No. 580

The first bills to advance in the legislature were H.F. No. 600 and S.F. No. 580, entitled the “Uniform State Labor Standards Act.” The bills are “relating to employment [and] providing uniformity for employment mandates on private employers.” The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Government Operations and Elections Policy (on Feb. 6) and the Senate Committee on Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy (on Feb. 2). 

These bills, which are nearly identically worded, would pre-empt and prohibit municipalities and other local units of government from enacting so-called paid “safe and sick leave” ordinances, minimum wage legislation, and other matters that are addressed in state statutes. 

They would specifically pre-empt the Minneapolis and St. Paul safe and sick leave ordinances that are scheduled to become effective on July 1.

H.F. No. 239

Another bill on these subjects, H.F. No. 239, was introduced (on Jan. 12) and referred to the House Committee on Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance. This bill is described as “a bill for an act relating to employment; establishing a Working Parents Act; providing wage theft protection; providing paid family leave; providing earned sick and safe time; requiring fair scheduling; imposing penalties; requiring reports; authorizing rulemaking; appropriating money; [and] amending Minnesota Statutes 2016.”

H.F. No. 239, if enacted, would provide for paid family leave of up to 12 weeks, and it would create a funding mechanism in the form of a payroll tax. The state would administer the program. It would also create paid safe and sick leave with a one-hour accrual for every 30 hours worked (as would the Minneapolis and St. Paul ordinances), but it would have a lower maximum accrual or carryover “cap” of 72 hours. No funding mechanism is provided in the bill for safe and sick leave. Also, this bill does not contain an express pre-emption provision.

Another significant provision in H.F. No .239 would change the state statute of limitations for the recovery of wages or overtime compensation from the current two years (three years for willful violations) to six years.

Bruce J. Douglas is an attorney with Ogletree Deakins in Minneapolis. © Ogletree Deakins. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 

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