City of Bloomington Passes Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance
June 22, 2022
On June 13, 2022, the Bloomington City Council adopted Ordinance 2022-31. Bloomington’s ordinance requires employers to provide certain amounts of sick and safe leave to employees working at least 80 hours per year in the city. Specifically, the law requires private employers with at least five employees to provide employees with one hour of paid leave for every 30 hours on the job, for up to 48 leave hours a year. Smaller employers are required to provide the same amounts of unpaid leave. The law applies to an employer regardless of whether the employer is physically located in Bloomington. Employers are only required to allow an employee to carry over 80 hours of leave into the following year. Once the law goes into effect, employees may use accrued leave after 90 calendar days of employment.
Accrued sick and safe time may be used for any of the following reasons:
- The employee’s mental or physical illness; injury; health condition; need for medical diagnosis; care, including prenatal care; treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or need for preventive medical or healthcare.
- The care of a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition who needs medical diagnosis; care, including prenatal care; treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition; or preventive medical or healthcare; or the death of a family member.
- An absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking of the employee or employee's family member for any of the following reasons:
- A. Seeking medical attention or psychological or other counseling services related to physical or psychological injury or disability caused by domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
- B. Obtaining services from a victim services organization.
- C. Seeking relocation due to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
- D. Seeking legal advice or take legal action, including preparing for or participating in any civil or criminal legal proceeding related to or resulting from domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
- The closure of the employee’s place of business by order of a public official to limit exposure to an infectious agent, biological toxin, hazardous material or other public health emergency.
- To accommodate the employee’s need to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official to limit exposure to an infectious agent, biological toxin, hazardous material or other public health emergency.
- To accommodate the employee’s need to care for a family member whose school or place of care has been closed due to inclement weather, loss of power, loss of heating, loss of water or other unexpected closure.
A employer may require reasonable documentation verifying the need for leave if the employee’s absence is longer than three consecutive days; the employee’s leave is for reasons in 1, 2 or 3A above; and the employer provides health insurance benefits to the employee.
Employers must notify employees that they are entitled to sick and safe time, the amount thereof and the terms of its use under the law. Prior to July 1, 2023, the City of Bloomington’s Attorney’s Office will provide a sample notice to conspicuously post and include in employee handbooks. Employers must also keep records documenting hours worked as well as leave accrued and used.
At this point, employers should be mindful of upcoming compliance requirements and expect interpretative guidance from the City Attorney’s Office. Employers with employees in Bloomington should work with legal counsel to incorporate the new ordinance requirements into their overall leave policy.
Ordinance 2022-31 »
Press Release »
State Prohibits Discrimination Based on Gender Identity or Expression
February 15, 2022
On December 30, 2021, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce (Commerce) (jointly, the “departments”) issued Administrative Bulletin 2021-3. The bulletin states that the departments prohibit entities that deliver or issue individual or group health policies in the state from discriminating against individuals because of their gender identity or expression. These entities cannot discriminate in the provision of health insurance benefits or in the availability of health insurance coverage.
The departments also announced that they would disapprove forms filed by insurers if there are exclusions on coverage for medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria and related health conditions, including gender confirmation surgery — including medically necessary procedures to conform secondary sex characteristics to a person’s gender identity or expression. In addition, the departments request that carriers provide attestations that they do not cover conversion therapy.
These prohibitions apply to all insurance companies, fraternal benefit societies, hospital service corporations, non-ERISA employer group plans, managed care organizations, medical service corporations and healthcare centers that deliver or issue individual and group health insurance policies in Minnesota. Accordingly, employers with plans regulated by the state should be aware of this bulletin.
Administrative Bulletin 2021-3 »
Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance Amended
August 17, 2021
On July 19, 2021, the Duluth City Council passed File No 21-023-O, an amendment to the city’s Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance. The mayor signed the amendment shortly thereafter and it will be effective on August 19, 2021. The original ordinance was discussed in the November 26, 2019, edition of Compliance Corner, as well as the April 14, 2020, edition. You can find those articles here.
The amendment allows covered employees to use the sick and safe leave provided by the ordinance when their employers close for reasons relating to public health. In addition, the amendment requires employers to include their polices related to this sick and safe leave in their employee handbooks, to display or provide a city-created poster to employees, or provide a company-created notice that advises employees of their rights under the ordinance. It also allows the city to order employers to provide employees with written notice of a violation and the corrective action taken.
Employers with employees who work at least 50% of their time in Duluth should be aware of this ordinance and its amendment.
File No. 21-023-O »
State Insurance Exchange Special Enrollment Period Extended
April 13, 2021
In response to the changes made to the premium tax credits by the American Rescue Plan Act, the state’s health insurance marketplace (MNsure) has extended its special open enrollment period (SEP) to July 16, 2021. This extension is occurring since premium tax credits have lowered premiums for a greater number of people; the state anticipates that the demand to enroll on the marketplace will rise.
While the creation of the SEP will affect individuals that will enroll on the marketplace, employers should be mindful of this extension in case there are employees who seek to drop coverage under their plans to take advantage of the SEP. Specifically, the permissible qualifying event for a revocation due to enrollment in a qualified plan will allow an employee to drop their employer’s plan mid-year if they intend to enroll in the marketplace. Unless future legislation or guidance indicates otherwise, applicable large employers are still required to offer full-time employees minimum value coverage satisfying one of the affordability safe harbors.
MNsure Press Release »
Minneapolis Paid Leave Ordinance Upheld
July 07, 2020
On June 10, 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the Minneapolis Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance in Minn. Chamber of Commerce v. City of Minneapolis. At issue in the case was 1) whether the ordinance is in conflict with state law; and 2) whether it violates the extraterritoriality doctrine because it applies to employers who are located outside of Minneapolis who have employees that work in Minneapolis.
As background, the ordinance requires employers to provide sick and safe time to employees who work within Minneapolis, and applies to all employees who work in Minneapolis, regardless of whether the employer is based in Minneapolis. Further, employees who work in Minneapolis for at least 80 hours a year are entitled to at least one hour of earned sick and safe time for every 30 hours worked in a calendar year (with a maximum of 48 hours).
The court affirmed that the ordinance was not preempted by state law and that the ordinance can be applied to employers who are located outside of the city (given that the primary purpose and effect of the ordinance is to regulate activity within Minneapolis). While the outcome of the case did not result in any changes impacting the ordinance, employers with employees located in Minneapolis should be aware of this development and ensure that they comply with the safe and sick time ordinance.
Minn. Chamber of Commerce v. City of Minneapolis, No. A18-0771 »
FAQ Regarding Local Earned Sick and Safe Time
May 12, 2020
Issued in April 2020, Saint Paul’s Labor Standards Enforcement and Education Division created an FAQ resource regarding earned sick and safe time. The FAQ resource addresses COVID-19 and the city's earned sick and safe time ordinance. Highlights include:
- Explanation that the Saint Paul Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) ordinance requires employers to provide earned sick and safe time to employees who work in Saint Paul. Sick time refers to paid time off for medical reasons (e.g., physical illness, mental injury, medical appointments seeking diagnosis), while safe time refers to paid time off for an absence related to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking.
- Employees may use both sick time and safe time for their own reasons or for reasons of a family member.
- ESST can be used if an employee’s place of work or child’s school/daycare is closed due to reasons related to COVID-19. However, only if such closure is due to an official order.
The above highlights are not exhaustive. Employers with employees in St. Paul should be aware of this resource and review the Frequently Asked Questions for additional guidance.
Earned Sick and Safe Time – COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers »
FAQs Provided for Localities: Additional Obligations for Sick and Safe Time
April 14, 2020
On March 15, 2020, the City of Duluth released Frequently Asked Questions as guidance for employers regarding Duluth’s Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law. In addition, on March 18, 2020, the City of Minneapolis issued an FAQ regarding COVID-19 and the Sick and Safe Time Ordinance.
As background, Duluth’s ESST ordinance guarantees paid time off for certain types of employees that work within the city, and protects certain activities, including coronavirus screening; providing and receiving care due to coronavirus symptoms or infection; and testing or quarantine following close personal contact with a coronavirus infected or symptomatic person. The city’s FAQ provides guidance regarding which employers must comply with the ordinance (any individual, corporation, partnership, association, nonprofit organization or group of people that has five or more employees, whether or not all of the employees work in the city) and when an employee can use sick time (for an absence from work resulting from the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, including the need for medical diagnosis, care, treatment or preventative medical care), among other topics.
Additionally, Minneapolis’ Sick and Safe Time ordinance protects employees’ accrued sick and safe time hours for use due to coronavirus symptoms, testing or infection. Further, protection extends to the employee and the employee’s care of a covered family member. Among other topics, the FAQs explain that employers may (but are not required to) allow employees to use accrued sick and safe time when employees’ hours are reduced (but the workplace has not been closed by a public official). Further, sick and safe time can be used for school or childcare closures, but cannot be used for preemptive self-quarantine.
Employers with employees in Duluth or Minneapolis should be aware of these resources and review the FAQs for additional guidance.
Duluth FAQs: Earned Sick and Safe Time and COVID-19 »
Minneapolis FAQs: COVID-19 and the Sick and Safe Time Ordinance »
Special Enrollment Period Available Through April 21
March 31, 2020
On March 20, 2020, MNsure announced a special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified, uninsured Minnesota residents as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. This 30-day special enrollment period runs from March 23, 2020, through April 21, 2020, and individuals who are currently without insurance can enroll via MNsure.org.
As background, generally, individuals can only enroll in state marketplace coverage during open enrollment or an SEP. MNsure created an SEP (in addition to other SEPs available) in response to the growing COVID-19 concerns to best assist uninsured Minnesota residents.
Important to note, individuals who enroll after April 1, but before 11:59 p.m. on April 21, will have a retroactive coverage start date to April 1, 2020.
Employers should be aware of these developments and should communicate with employees accordingly.
3.20.2020 Press Release »
COVID-19 Emergency Special Enrollment Period »
Health Insurer COVID-19 Coverage Requirements
March 31, 2020
On March 13, 2020, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Health (the “Departments”) issued a Memorandum to Health Insurance Carriers Related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) to address the pandemic. Noting the importance of health plans related to the public health emergency, the Departments' requested that health carriers (in the fully-insured market):
- Eliminate all cost sharing for COVID-19 testing, including costs related to an office or urgent care visit to be tested.
- Limit or eliminate cost sharing for treatment for COVID-19 for in-network providers. To this end, insurers should ease other requirements (such as prior authorization or precertification requirements for COVID-19 treatment).
- Allow out-of-network care when in-network is unavailable to provide services.
- Expand the availability of telemedicine services.
- Provide one-time refill of covered prescription medications prior to the expiration of the waiting period between refills.
Employers should be aware of these developments. While the above relates to fully insured plans, the Departments strongly encourage self-insured plans to follow the same guidance as outlined in the memorandum.
Memorandum to Health Insurance Carriers Related to COVID-19 »
Pharmacy Benefit Manager Licensing Law Effective January 1, 2020
January 22, 2020
On May 20, 2019, Gov. Walz signed SF278. The law took effect January 1, 2020, and requires pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) doing business in the state to become licensed by the state. Licensure requires that PBMs disclose upon request to health plan sponsors information concerning rebates and other financial arrangements negotiated by the PBM when negotiating the prices that health plans pay drug manufacturers. Failing to comply with this and other requirements could subject PBMs to fines and other penalties.
The law imposes no new employer compliance obligations, but employers who sponsor health plans should be aware of this law, especially when dealing with PBMs doing business in the state.
PBM Licensing Law »