New Administrative Rules Clarify Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law

On October 3, 2019, the Duluth City Council updated its administrative rules relating to Ordinance No. 10571, which the council adopted on May 30, 2018, and which takes effect on January 1, 2020. The ordinance requires private employers to provide paid sick and safe leave to employees.

The new administrative rules clarify some of the language in the ordinance. As discussed in the June 12, 2018, Compliance Corner article on the law, the Duluth city ordinance requires private employers with at least five employees to provide employees with one hour of paid leave off for every 50 hours on the job, for up to 64 leave hours a year for employees that: 1) work in Duluth more than 50% of their working time in a 12-month period; or 2) are based in Duluth, spend a substantial part of time working in Duluth, and don't spend more than 50% of work time in a 12-month period in any other particular place.

The rules clarify that a “substantial part of time” means more than 50% of work time. The rules also clarify that commuting to work, as well as time worked at home, counts as hours worked in Duluth.

In addition to these clarifications, the rules create a six-factor test to determine whether a worker is an employee (who is eligible) or an intern (who is not eligible) and defines seasonal employee. They also expand on the ordinance’s treatment of substantially equivalent leave policies maintained by employers, including non-traditional paid leave policies such as unlimited leave.

The rules go on to formalize existing FAQ postings by the city concerning the accrual of sick and safe time while a worker works overtime, or takes vacation time or sick and safe time. The rules also provide more detail on how employers provide notice of the ordinance, as well as procedures a worker should follow when requesting sick and safe leave or when they notify the employer that they are taking the leave, including appropriate supporting documentation.

In addition, the rules state violations may incur administrative penalties or the suspension or revocation of city-issued licenses. Finally, the rules state that the leave can run concurrently with other state or federal leave law, such as FMLA.

Since the effective date for the ordinance is fast-approaching, employers should make sure that their leave policies reflect this new guidance.

City of Duluth Administrative Rules »