The 2023 legislative session came to an end last month, but not before lawmakers passed a multitude of bills that brought significant improvements to the rights of employees in Minnesota. From expanded paid leave to additional protections from discrimination to enhanced workplace safety protections, here’s what Minnesota employees need to know about the evolving employment law landscape.
The biggest change might be the implementation of a paid family and medical leave program. Beginning in 2026, workers will have the right to paid leave when they must miss work for medical, caregiving, parental, safety, or deployment reasons. Workers may take up to 12 weeks of leave per year, and they are entitled to their job back when they return from leave. This includes all full and part-time employees, with very limited exceptions for seasonal workers.
Similarly, employees in Minnesota will now earn one hour of time off to care for themselves or their family members under a new sick and safe time program set to begin in 2024. Workers will have to give reasonable notice to take time off, and the absence must be related to physical or mental health, taking care of a family member, closure of work, school, or childcare due to severe weather or an emergency, or seeking safety from domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for using sick or safe time under this program.
Another significant change is the prohibition on non-compete agreements. Any agreement made between an employee and employer on or after July 1, 2023, that seeks to restrict the employee’s ability to work will be void and unenforceable. Employers can still prohibit employees from soliciting their customers or sharing confidential information or trade secrets.
In a similar vein, franchise agreements that prevent workers at one franchise from moving to another are now unenforceable. This change is effective immediately.
Changes also include additional protections against discrimination, such as the CROWN Act, which prohibits discrimination based on traits associated with race, such as hair style or texture. The legislature also modified the definition of “gender identity” to ensure that transgender and gender non-conforming people are protected from workplace discrimination.
Additionally, protections for pregnant and nursing employees have been expanded, ensuring that reasonable pregnancy accommodations and lactation breaks must be granted. Nursing mothers are now entitled to three lactation breaks per day without any reduction in pay.
Other changes include prohibiting mandatory meetings related to political or religious matters, and meetings aimed at discouraging union organizing, allowing construction workers to hold contractors liable when subcontractors violate wage theft laws, prohibiting employers from asking about pay history, and adding workplace protections for warehouse and meatpacking employees.
The 2023 legislative session in Minnesota has brought about significant advancements in employee rights. From the implementation of paid family and medical leave to the prohibition of non-compete agreements, along with expanded protections against discrimination and improved workplace safety measures, these changes mark a transformative moment for workers in the state. If you are experiencing discrimination or retaliation in violation of any of the above laws, contact Kitzer Rochel. Our experienced employment law attorneys would be happy to discuss your case and understand your legal rights and options.