Minnesota Sick Leave Law

Paid medical leave is not regarded as a federal requirement.

However, numerous states and localities in the United States have begun implementing legislation requiring businesses to provide it to eligible employees.

Several Minnesota-based companies provide paid sick leave and safe time via Paid Time Off (PTO) despite not being mandatory yet.

We’ll highlight the Minnesota sick leave law implemented in three Metropolitan cities that helps protect the safety, health, and welfare of employees in the state.


Before we discuss the sick time policies in Minnesota, let’s first discuss how the state defines family members, sick, and safe time.

Family Members

The ordinances define a family member when they are the employee’s

  • Child
  • Foster child
  • Legal Ward
  • Child (employee is recognized as a legal guardian)
  • Domestic partner
  • Spouse
  • Sibling (includes stepsibling and foster sibling)
  • Parent (includes stepparent, in-laws)
  • Grandparent (includes step-grandparent) 
  • Grandchild (includes foster grandchild)
  • Other person related by blood
  • An individual with a “family-like” relationship

Sick Time

Sick time is paid time off workers can take in the event of illness, injury, business shutdown for public health concerns, or other health issues.

Employees may utilize sick time to care for themselves, their minor child, and other family members.

Safe Time

Safe Time refers to paid time off that is applicable when employees are victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking.

Like sick time leave, employees can use safe time leave to take care of their adult child, siblings, and other family members.

Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

This ordinance allows Minneapolis employees to care for themselves and their family members without losing employment.

Whether you’re a full-time or part-time worker, you may be able to avail of its benefit.

Its goal is to make Minneapolis a healthier, more productive, and secure community.


This Minnesota sick leave law requires employers with six or more workers to give paid sick and safe time.

Businesses with five or fewer workers are also required to give sick and safe time, although they may do so unpaid.

Furthermore, until the first of July 2022, an employer may give unpaid leave during its first year of operation.


The ordinance applies to all types of employees, notably temporary, part-time, and undocumented workers.

The Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time covers:

  • Physical and Mental Illness
  • Injury
  • Preventative care
  • Medical care
  • Domestic or sexual violence
  • To take care of a family member

It is often paid regularly and impacts companies that do not already give equal or similar sick leave benefits.

Employers may grant a more generous policy related to sick leave as the ordinance is more of a baseline, not a ceiling.

Accrual Limits

Sick and safe time is accrued at the rate of one hour per thirty working hours.

An employment contract may limit an employee’s annual accrual to 48 hours.

It may also restrict an employee’s overall unused sick and safe time credits to 80 hours in succeeding years.

The 48 hours each benefit year and the ceiling of 80 hours limits are applied simultaneously.

These restrictions can be higher if an employer wants to, but they cannot be lower.

Use of Leave

Employees can begin utilizing this leave if they have at least 90 days of employment.

Companies can specify the time increments, but the increment cannot be more than four hours.

There is no limit to using the leave as long as the employee has remaining credits.

Employers may oblige employees to produce the usual notice requirements seven days before the leave date.

If the time off is not planned, the employer could immediately demand notification and additional requirements.

Duluth Earned Sick and Safe Time Ordinance (ESST)

Duluth City also has a sick and safe time ordinance with slight differences from the Minneapolis one.

However, the goal of providing time to employees for health and safety purposes remains the same.

The primary employee exemptions to the ESST are student interns, independent contractors, specific railroad employees, and seasonal employees.

State government, county, local government, federal employees, and various public employers are also not qualified to use this Minnesota sick leave law.


The employer can choose whether they prefer the ESST to be accrued over time or front-loaded.

Employees must accumulate a minimum of one hour of leave for every 50 hours of working.

If unused, employees can utilize up to 40 hours of ESST the following year.

In the event that the successor employer retains the workers of the original employer, ESST is still applicable.

Employers who want to front-load employees need to provide 40 hours of ESST.

The benefit for employers, if they choose to front-load ESST, is that they are not mandated to grant carry-over leave credits the following year.


Employees may use their EEST leave to care for their personal illness or injury, especially if a medical diagnosis is required.

Absence because of abuse or assault is also applicable.

Using EEST for family members affected by the scenarios mentioned is allowed.

Like Minneapolis, employees in Duluth are allowed to utilize their ESST leave 90 days after employment begins.

Saint Paul ESST

The city of Saint Paul also implements an ESST ordinance for their full-time and part-time employees.

Its rules have several similarities to the Minneapolis and Duluth ESST.

Once they worked for 80 hours in the city for one year, the employee is already covered for the remainder of that year.

Similar to the previous ESST, this leave does not apply to independent contractors.


The ordinance only requires 30 working hours for an employee to earn one hour of ESST.

Hourly employees earn ESST when they log overtime hours for companies that don’t include Paid Time Off program in their employment contract.

Employers may provide more ESST in addition to the maximum allowed of 80 hours annually.

To do that, the extra leave has to be available on the established policy in writing.

Front-loading is also allowed in the Saint Paul ESST ordinance.

Use of Leave

The required number of days for employees is the same, and there’s no limit on using ESST in a year, given there are sufficient credits.

The employer controls time increments, but it must not be more than four hours.

Final Thoughts

These leave laws are essential for employees because there are circumstances in which their employment contract won’t provide much help.

Employees can utilize the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) for child care and other purposes if the leave is still insufficient.

While the benefits may be one-sided, companies have to grant the leave regardless.

Otherwise, non-compliant employers may face a civil action lawsuit if they fail to do so.

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