Responding to increased attention to worker protections promoting public health and safety, both Bloomington’s and St. Paul’s City Councils recently unanimously approved amendments to their Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Ordinances. The ESST Ordinances obligate an employer to pay their employees when they take time off for reasons related to the employee’s or the employee’s family member’s health and safety needs. St. Paul’s amendments took effect on February 18, 2023. Bloomington’s entire ordinance, including these amendments, will take effect for the first time on July 1, 2023.

Important Changes to Bloomington’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Bloomington’s Ordinance previously specified employees earn one hour of ESST for every thirty hours worked. Though this hour-unit did not change, the amendments added language granting employers discretion to permit accrual of ESST in fractions of an hour instead of block hour-units. Out of the four Minnesota cities with ESST ordinances, Duluth is the only other city to also give employers discretion to permit employees to accrue ESST in fractions of hours. Unlike Duluth, however, Bloomington does not clarify whether employers must allow employees to use ESST in fractions of an hour.

Under the amended ordinance, covered employers will be required to provide employees with available and used ESST hours on each pay stub. The required statement is here. In contrast, Duluth, Minneapolis, and St. Paul ordinances merely require employers to provide this information upon employee request.

Bloomington’s amendments also provide additional detail regarding administrative penalties for violations of the ordinance.

Important Changes to St. Paul’s Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

St. Paul’s revisions to its ESST Ordinance focus on providing ESST for every employee working within the geographic boundaries of St. Paul, regardless of the physical location of the employer. Before these amendments, the ESST Ordinance only applied to businesses with a brick-and-mortar location in St. Paul. The revision was in part triggered by a 2020 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling that interpreted Minneapolis’ Sick and Safe Time Ordinance as applying to employees working within the city whose employers had brick and mortar locations outside city limits. The Court’s ruling gave cities in Minnesota wide discretion to regulate all work performed in their city limits.

Another key change includes aligning the ESST Ordinance with the city’s Minimum Wage Ordinance. To create consistency, the ESST Ordinance now adheres to the same investigation and appeals process used for reported minimum wage payment violations.

St. Paul also added affirmative statements encouraging employers to enact more generous sick and safe time policies. The ESST Ordinance does not prevent employers from allowing workers to voluntarily switch shifts, donate ESST to a coworker, or receive ESST in advance before accrual. Employers may allow workers to use their accrued sick and safe time when they are scheduled to work outside city limits.

In response to Bloomington and St. Paul’s updated ESST Ordinances, affected employers should consider taking these steps: (1) review current paid time off and sick leave policies to determine compliance with the amendments, (2) update employee handbooks if necessary, and (3) continue to monitor for further paid leave law developments in Minnesota and around the country.

For more information about how these paid leave laws may impact your organization, please contact a Jackson Lewis attorney.