Labor and Employment Law Overview: Minnesota

Labor and Employment Law Overview requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

Summary

  • Minnesota law prohibits an employer from discriminating against employees in a variety of protected classes. See EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations.
  • Minnesota law affects an employer's ability to conduct drug and alcohol testing. See Recruiting and Hiring.
  • The minimum wage rate that a Minnesota employer is required to pay depends on the size of the employer. An employer must also comply with requirements relating to overtime and restroom, meal and breastfeeding breaks. See Wage and Hour.
  • Minnesota has a few laws that relate to employee pay and benefits including health care continuation, the use of payroll cards and allowable deductions. See Pay and Benefits.
  • A Minnesota employer may be required to provide employees with certain leaves of absence including adoption leave, domestic abuse leave, school activities leave and bone marrow donation leave. See Attendance and Leave.
  • The timing of a terminated employee's final paycheck depends on whether or not the termination was voluntary. See Organizational Exit.

Introduction to Employment Law in Minnesota

Minnesota is generally considered an employee-friendly state.

Select Minnesota employment requirements are summarized below to help an employer understand the range of employment laws affecting the employer-employee relationship in the state. An employer must comply with both federal and state law.

An employer must also comply with applicable municipal law obligations affecting the employment relationship, in addition to complying with state and federal requirements.

EEO, Diversity and Employee Relations

Key Minnesota requirements impacting EEO, diversity and employee relations are:

Minnesota Human Rights Act

The Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA) establishes protected classes not recognized under federal antidiscrimination laws. Specifically, the MHRA prohibits discrimination on the basis of:

  • Race;
  • Color;
  • Creed;
  • Religion;
  • National origin;
  • Sex;
  • Marital status;
  • Status with regard to public assistance or activity in a local commission;
  • Disability;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Age; and
  • Familial status.

The MHRA applies to an employer with one or more employees in Minnesota.

Equal Pay for Equal Work

The Equal Pay for Equal Work Law prohibits an employer from discriminating between employees on the basis of sex by paying unequal wages for equal work except where such payment is made according to a:

  • Seniority system;
  • Merit system;
  • System that measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or
  • Differential based on any other factor besides sex.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on EEO, diversity and employee relations practices in Minnesota can be found in the Minnesota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Disabilities (ADA): Minnesota, EEO - Discrimination: Minnesota, EEO - Harassment: Minnesota, EEO - Retaliation: Minnesota, Minnesota Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Minnesota? Federal requirements can be found in Disabilities (ADA): Federal, EEO - Discrimination: Federal, EEO - Harassment: Federal and EEO - Retaliation: Federal.

Recruiting and Hiring

Minnesota's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act (DATWA) governs employment-related drug and alcohol testing. Among its provisions, the DATWA requires that, prior to testing, an employer implement a written drug and alcohol testing policy that includes:

  • Who will be subject to testing;
  • The circumstances under which an individual may be tested;
  • The rights of an individual to refuse to be tested;
  • The consequences of refusing to submit to testing;
  • Potential disciplinary actions of a confirmed positive test result;
  • An individual's right to explain a confirmed positive test result; and
  • Appeal procedures.

A Minnesota employer may conduct testing in the following situations:

  • Job applicant testing;
  • Routine physical examination testing;
  • Random testing for safety-sensitive positions;
  • Reasonable suspicion testing; and
  • Treatment program testing.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on recruiting and hiring practices in Minnesota can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Minnesota and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Minnesota? Federal requirements can be found in Preemployment Screening and Testing: Federal.

Wage and Hour

Key Minnesota requirements impacting wages and hours are:

Minimum Wage

The state of Minnesota has two minimum wage rates depending on the size of the employer:

  • Large employers, currently defined as those covered by the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act and having an annual gross volume of sales made or business done of at least $500,000, must pay a minimum wage rate of $9.50 per hour; and
  • Small employers must pay a minimum wage rate of $7.75 per hour.

A training wage of $7.75 per hour may be paid during the first 90 days of employment to employees under 20 years of age.

Overtime

A Minnesota employer must pay overtime for all hours worked in excess of 48 hours per week. Several types of employees are exempt from Minnesota's overtime requirements, such as:

  • Unionized employees who qualify for a partial overtime exemption;
  • Retail or service employees paid on a commission basis, if their regular rate of pay exceeds one and one-half times the state minimum wage;
  • Certain salespersons, parts persons or mechanics employed by a motor vehicle dealership;
  • Certain airline employees;
  • Companionship service providers who stay overnight in the home of an aged or infirm individual and are paid the state minimum wage or more for at least four hours associated with the overnight stay; and
  • Workers who are not considered employees.

Break Periods

Employees who work eight hours or more must have sufficient time to eat a meal (usually 30 minutes or more). Additionally, employees must be allowed time to use the nearest restroom once every four consecutive hours worked.

Breastfeeding Breaks

An employer must provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The break time must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. An employer also must make reasonable efforts to provide a private room for this purpose, other than a bathroom or toilet stall.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on wage and hour practices in Minnesota can be found in the Minnesota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, Minimum Wage: Minnesota, Overtime: Minnesota, Hours Worked: Minnesota and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Minnesota? Federal requirements can be found in Minimum Wage: Federal, Overtime: Federal and Hours Worked: Federal.

Pay and Benefits

Key Minnesota requirements impacting pay and benefits are:

Health Care Continuation

In Minnesota, employees working for employers with two or more employees may qualify for continued health insurance coverage. Minnesota health care continuation requirements follow the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) with regard to the qualifying events that create eligibility for continuation coverage, such as;

  • Termination of employment or reduction in hours ("lay off" under Minnesota law);
  • Divorce from or death of the employee; or
  • Loss of coverage due to an employee's Medicare coverage.

Under certain circumstances, the maximum length of continuation coverage in Minnesota is longer than under COBRA.

Wage Payment Methods

A Minnesota employer may pay wages in cash, or with checks that are convertible into cash at full face value. Nonnegotiable instruments are not permitted.

An employer may also pay wages by direct deposit as long as the employee:

  • Selects the financial institution into which the deposit is made; and
  • Does not object in writing to payment by direct deposit.

Minnesota law also permits the use of electronic paycards as long as certain conditions are satisfied.

Wage Deductions

A Minnesota employer may make the following types of deductions from employees' wages:

  • Those required by federal or state law; and
  • Those expressly authorized in writing by the employee for the purpose of paying specific items, such as union dues or group accident and health insurance.

An employer may also make deductions from an employee's wages for items such as uniforms and equipment used in employment, as long as the employee's wage rate does not fall below the minimum wage in effect.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on pay and benefits practices in Minnesota can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Minnesota and Payment of Wages: Minnesota. Federal requirements can be found in Health Care Continuation (COBRA): Federal and Payment of Wages: Federal.

Attendance and Leave

Key Minnesota requirements impacting attendance and leave are:

Pregnancy and Parenting Leave

Under Minnesota's Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Act, an employer with at least 21 employees at one site must provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for:

  • The birth or adoption of a child;
  • Prenatal care; and
  • Incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth or related health conditions.

If the employer is also covered by the FMLA, leave taken under the Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Act and the FMLA may run concurrently.

Minnesota's law is broader than the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which only covers employers that employ 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the work site. Thus, some small employers that are not covered by the FMLA may be covered by the Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Act.

Other Leave Laws Affecting Minnesota Employers

In addition to Minnesota's Pregnancy and Parenting Leave Act, a Minnesota employer is required to comply with a number of other leave laws, including:

  • Adoptive parent leave (covering employers that provide paternity or maternity leave for biological parents);
  • Sick leave benefits; Care of relatives act (covering employers with at least 21 employees at one site);
  • School conference and activities leave;
  • Pregnancy disability leave (covering employers with 15 or more employees);
  • Workers' compensation leave;
  • Isolation/Quarantine leave;
  • Bone marrow donation leave (covering employers with 20 or more employees);
  • Voting/Election leave;
  • Jury duty leave;
  • Victim or witness leave;
  • Domestic abuse leave;
  • Military leave; and
  • Civil air patrol service leave (covering employers with at least 20 employees at one site).

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on attendance and leave practices in Minnesota can be found in the Minnesota Employee Handbook Table of Contents, FMLA: Minnesota, Other Leaves: Minnesota, Minnesota Workplace Labor and Employment Law Posters and Does This Law Apply to My Organization in Minnesota? Federal requirements can be found in FMLA: Federal and Other Leaves: Federal.

Organizational Exit

Key Minnesota requirements impacting organizational exit are:

Final Paycheck

For an involuntarily terminated employee, wages are due within 24 hours of the employee's demand for payment. With some exceptions, if an employee is voluntarily terminated, wages are due by the next payday, as long as the payday is within 20 days of the last day worked.

Notifying Employee of Reason for Termination

If a terminated employee submits a written request within 15 days of termination, a Minnesota employer must inform the employee of the truthful reason for termination, within 10 working days of the request.

References

Minnesota law provides qualified immunity to employers responding to a reference request in good faith. Employers may disclose:

  • Dates of employment;
  • Compensation history;
  • Job description;
  • Training provided by the employer;
  • Written information regarding acts of violence, theft, harassment or illegal conduct that resulted in disciplinary action or resignation, and the employee's written response.

Additionally, with the employee's written consent, an employer may provide records relating to:

  • Employee evaluations;
  • Disciplinary warnings and actions which occurred during the five years before the date of the authorization; and
  • Reasons for separation from employment.

Be aware that where there is overlap between federal, state and/or local law, complying with the law that offers the greatest rights or benefits to the employee will generally apply.

Additional information on organizational exit practices in Minnesota can be found in Payment of Wages: Minnesota, Involuntary Terminations: Minnesota and Employee Communications: Minnesota. Federal requirements can be found in Payment of Wages: Federal, Involuntary Terminations: Federal and Employee Communications: Federal.