Minnesota Labor Laws

March 15th 2024

This article covers:

What are Minnesota Time Management Laws?

In the US, there are federal laws in place to manage the time spent by employees in the workplace, safeguarding their rights and guaranteeing fair pay for their efforts. These laws act as directives for employers, keeping them in check, and minimizing any forms of abuse or exploitation.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dates back to 1938, is a critical federal law for time management, setting hourly wage rates and overtime pay, and requiring employers to keep an accurate record of their employees’ working hours. Overtime is pegged at 1.5 times the regular hourly rate for workers who exceed 40 hours a week. However, certain job categories, including executives, professionals, and administrative employees, are exempt from overtime pay depending on their job description and salary.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is another essential federal law that governs time management in the workplace, entitling eligible employees to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for specific family and medical reasons, such as the birth or adoption of a child or caring for a family member with a serious health condition. This act also requires employers to maintain employees’ health benefits during their leave and restore them to their previous or equivalent positions upon their return to work.

Employers who contravene federal time management laws face severe legal ramifications, including fines, back pay, and damages. If workers feel that their employer has violated federal time management laws, they can file complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division for investigation and legal action.

Overall, federal time management laws are instrumental in ensuring that workers are compensated fairly for their time and effort in the workplace, protecting them from abuse and exploitation by employers. The Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act are vital federal laws that govern time management and worker compensation, ensuring fair labor practices across various sectors, including non-profit, public, and private organizations.

Minnesota Minimum Wage $10.85 – for large employers earning revenue more than $500,000 yearly
$8.85 — for small employers with annual revenue less than $500,000
Minnesota Overtime 1.5 times the rate of the standard wage if the employee has worked over 48 hours
$16.28 – for large employers earning revenue more than $500,000 yearly
$13.28 – for small employers with annual revenue less than $500,000
Minnesota Break Laws 20-minute meal breaks (must be provided during 8-hour shifts)
30-minute meal breaks for minors
4-hour gap between restroom breaks

What are the Hiring, Working & Termination Laws in Minnesota?

Just like any other US state, Minnesota also abides by federal hiring laws. The reason why employees are mindful of such laws is because of discrimination laws that impact job interviews and daily operations. The state’s Human Rights Act prohibits any employment practices that discriminate against individuals based on their:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Marital and familial status
  • Disability
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation

Minnesota is not classified as one of the “right to work” states in the United States which means there are no specific regulations for the relationship between employers and union workers. Despite this, Minnesota still has a Labor Relations Act in place that serves to offer safeguard amidst strikes, work stoppages, labor disputes, and lockouts for the benefit of both the employees and employers involved.

Employment-at-will is practiced in Minnesota, allowing for termination of employment for any lawful reason. However, employers must comply with labor laws to avoid violations and fines, including discrimination and the Human Rights Act. While state law doesn’t require notice of separation, it is common practice to give a 2-week notice. If an employee asks for a reason for termination within 2 weeks of their separation, the employer must provide a truthful written explanation within 10 days.

Minnesota requires employers to pay all unpaid wages to employees who have been terminated from their position. If an employee requests their wages, the employer has 24 hours to make the payment. In the case of an employee who has quit, the wages are due in the next pay period that starts 5 days after their last day of work. The maximum period for payment, excluding the 5-day period, is 20 days. However, if the employee is paid monthly and the termination occurs in the first 5 days of the month, the payment may be delayed until the next pay period.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Minnesota?

Now, we will discuss some key labor laws in Minnesota that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored. Some of these regulations include:

  • COBRA Law – If you lose or quit your job and need health insurance, you may be protected by the federal law known as COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. However, this law only applies to businesses with 20 or more employees, and there are certain requirements that must be met to apply for it. If you do qualify, you will receive 18 to 36 months of group health coverage. In Minnesota, the state law is a bit different. COBRA covers all businesses, regardless of their annual income or number of employees. Additionally, the law allows for continuation of health coverage for recently divorced spouses, families of deceased employees, and children who have lost their dependent status due to turning 26 years old.
  • OSHA Laws – In 1970, the Occupational Safety and Health Act was established and all states in the US included it in their laws. OSHA, which stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was then created to oversee the act and its function is to promote safety and prevent hazards in the workplace. In Minnesota, there are specific OSHA laws and regulations in place to safeguard workers from various types of hazards such as biological, chemical, work organization, safety, physical, and ergonomic hazards.
  • Background Check Law – As per the federal law and the Fair Credit Reporting Act, any information regarding an employee’s background is entirely safeguarded and cannot be accessed by medical information companies, credit bureaus, and tenant screening services. It’s worth noting that Minnesota has specific requirements for background checks for certain types of employees. These include nursing home and home care personnel, residential buildings’ managers, school personnel, adult rehabilitation specialists, and long-term health personnel.
  • Recordkeeping Laws – Sometimes, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry inspects employers to ensure they’re complying with record keeping laws. To do so, employers must have certain documents available including employee names and addresses, payment info, working hours, proof of age, meal credit records (if applicable), personnel policies, and signed employment contracts. These records must be kept either at the workplace or at a nearby location that’s easily accessible if requested by the commissioner.
  • “Ban-the-box” Law – In the US, a number of states have introduced the “ban the box” law, and one of these states is Minnesota. The term refers to a practice where ex-offenders and criminals were required to check certain boxes on job application forms. Because ex-offenders often face barriers to employment, several states decided to ban this practice and forbid employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history. It’s worth noting, however, that the law does not apply to employers who are required by law to perform background checks relating to criminal activity, nor does it apply to the Department of Corrections.
  • Whistleblower Law – Most US states have laws that protect whistleblowers, which are employees that reveal information about wrongdoings or illegal activities by their employer. These laws ensure that employees can’t be punished or have any negative reactions by their employer, as long as they are reporting a suspected violation in good faith, cooperating in any investigation, refusing to be part of wrongdoing or refusing to break the law.
  • Drug and Alcohol Testing Law – Under the laws of Minnesota, employers are allowed to ask their employees to undergo drug and alcohol testing once a year if they provide a 2-week notice. Nevertheless, there are other scenarios where employers can request such tests more often. These include conducting tests on all job applicants as per the company’s policies, random drug testing to ensure safety in sensitive working environments, drug testing based on reasonable suspicion, and conducting tests as part of a treatment program.

Minnesota Payment Laws

To start off, let’s take a look at the laws that govern how much employees must be paid. We’ll delve into the details of minimum wage standards, including any exceptions that may apply.

What is the Minimum Payment in Minnesota?

Currently, minimum wage stands at $10.85 for businesses that make more than $500,000 yearly and $8.85 for those that make under $500,000. Due to the state’s minimum wage being higher than the federal amount, all employees are entitled to the higher sum.

The state of Minnesota is required to conduct an annual review to adjust its minimum wage rate by 2.5% or for inflation. This process is completed by the Department of Labor and Industry’s Commissioner by the end of August, with the changes implemented the following year.

The “Twin Cities” of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and its state capital, St. Paul, have their minimum wage laws, which are slightly higher than the rest of the state. As of January 1, 2024, Minneapolis has enforced a $15.57 minimum wage for larger employers. From July 1, 2024, smaller businesses with less than 101 employees will be required to pay the same minimum wage of $15.57 per hour. St. Paul also has its minimum wage law, which requires macro employers to enforce a minimum wage of $15.57.

In Minnesota, all tipped employees are legally entitled to the state minimum wage of $10.85 per hour in business earning revenues more than $500,000, in addition to their tips. Tipped employees working for small businesses are to be paid $8.85 per hour. Employers are not permitted to apply tips towards the minimum wage. Employees may choose whether they would like to share the tip pool with colleagues or be tipped individually.

Minnesota has joined several other states in creating task forces to eliminate subminimum wages. Full-time students, minors, and workers who are in their first 90 days of training will also be protected by this move. Currently, all employees, working in small and large businesses, receive a minimum wage of $8.85 and $10.85 respectively, but some areas may establish their own wages. The Subminimum Wage Task Force plans to address this issue and is due to release an official plan by Aug 1, 2025.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, there are certain exceptions to the minimum wage that are covered by both state and federal laws. The exceptions include:

  • Executive employees, administrative employees, professional employees, and highly compensated employees
  • Wreath makers
  • Babysitters
  • Taxi drivers
  • Nonprofit volunteers
  • US Department of Transportation employees
  • Employees that provide police or fire protection

What is the Payment Due Date in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, employers are generally required to pay their employees at least once in a 31-day work period. However, the payment frequency can vary based on the industry and type of work. New employees are typically paid on the first regular payday for all wages earned in the first period of a calendar month. School workers can agree to different payment arrangements with their employers in writing, while first responders and firefighters may agree on longer payment intervals. Migrant workers in Minnesota are entitled to a paycheck every 15 days, and public utility companies must pay their employees on a semi-monthly basis.

What are Minnesota Overtime Laws?

In order to be eligible for overtime pay, non-exempt employees need to work a minimum of 48 hours during a seven-day workweek. This is in compliance with state law, which stipulates that any extra hours worked will be remunerated at 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly wage. However, under federal law, some employers are obligated to pay overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours per week. The types of employees who qualify for this type of overtime vary and may include those who produce or handle goods for interstate commerce, work in businesses that earn at least $500,000 in gross annual income, work in hospitals and nursing facilities, teach in public and private schools, or hold higher positions in federal and state agencies.  

What are Overtime Exceptions and Exemptions in Minnesota?

Under federal law, certain employees and professions in most US states are exempt from receiving overtime pay. These include:

  • Highly compensated employees earning over $107,432 annually
  • Executive and administrative employees earning at least $684 per week
  • Professional employees like artists, researchers, scientists and skilled computer professionals
  • Outside salespeople
  • Mechanics
  • Taxi drivers
  • Seasonal employees
  • Sugar beet hand laborers
  • Babysitters
  • Agricultural technicians

Learn more in detail about Minnesota Salaried Employees Laws and Minnesota Overtime Laws.

What are Minnesota Time Off/Break Laws?

Employers in Minnesota must follow state regulations and allow their workers adequate time for restroom and meal breaks. The length of each break is determined by the employer, but any breaks that are less than 20 minutes are paid breaks. Additionally, employees must have access to restroom breaks within every four hours worked. For employees working eight hours or more, a meal break must also be provided.

What are the Exceptions to Break Law in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, while employers are required to offer meal breaks, there is no strict requirement that the break must last for 20 minutes. The Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act states that employees must be provided with sufficient time to eat a meal, but employers generally follow the 20-minute break consensus. Additionally, there are certain professions exempt from break and overtime laws, as their job nature allows them to take breaks on multiple occasions during the day. These professions include taxi drivers, babysitters, seafarers, religious employees, and certain agricultural workers.  

What are Minnesota Breastfeeding Laws?

In recent years, US states have been updating their laws to support breastfeeding parents. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, breastfeeding parents are entitled to a reasonable amount of time to express milk. Employers typically work with their employees to determine how long these breaks will be. Additionally, employers must provide a suitable and private space for breastfeeding that is not a bathroom or stall. This area should be located near the employee’s workspace and have access to an electric outlet. Failure to comply with these conditions can result in fines determined by a court.  

What are Minnesota Leave Laws?

Minnesota provides two types of leaves – required and non-required leaves.

What is Minnesota Required Leave?

The required leave types are as follows:

  • Family and Medical Leave – In Minnesota, both federal and state laws cover employees in cases of certain family and medical emergencies. In situations where both laws apply, the one offering more protection is taken into consideration. Federal law permits employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to handle specific family and medical issues, such as caring for a sick family member, treating serious health conditions, or providing care for a family member who was injured on active duty. Meanwhile, under Minnesota law, employers with at least 21 employees must provide 12 weeks of absence for prenatal care, regardless of whether the parents are biological or adoptive. The 12-week period for bonding and general care must be taken within a year of the child’s adoption or birth. An employee must have worked for the employer for at least a year, worked 1,250 hours, and worked at a location with at least 50 employed workers within 75 miles to receive FMLA benefits.
  • Military Leave – Minnesota employees are well-protected in terms of military leave. If an employee needs to care for a family member who has been injured while on active duty, they can receive up to 14 weeks of absence for military caregiver leave. However, if that family member is injured again while on duty, the employee cannot take additional leave. Additionally, all employers in Minnesota must provide reasonable leave for employees whose family members are on active duty, particularly when it comes to welcoming or sending off a family member, caring for an injured family member, or organizing a funeral for a family member who has been killed.
  • Bone Marrow and Organ Donation Leave – If a company has a workforce of 20 or more operating either in a physical or virtual environment, they must offer a 40-hour period of leave to employees who wish to donate bone marrow or organs. In cases where complications arise, the leave can be extended beyond 40 hours but at least this minimum hours must be granted. For an employee to be eligible for this leave, they must provide medical documentation from a physician indicating their suitability for donation. It’s worth noting that if an employee is found to be unsuitable for donation, their right to take leave will not be taken away.
  • School Activity and Conference Leave – To be eligible for this type of leave, an employee must have a biological or adopted child or be a legal guardian of one. Additionally, they must work at least half of a full-time schedule for their employer. If these requirements are met, the employee can take up to 16 unpaid work hours off within a one-year period to attend conferences or school activities related to their child. This leave is renewable every year and applies to each child the employee has.
  • Jury Duty Leave – In Minnesota, it is illegal for employers to punish or fire workers who participate in jury duty. Employers must grant unpaid leave for jury service, although employees may need to show their jury summons as proof. Payment for such leave is not mandatory, though some union members may receive compensation if their contract allows for it. Regardless, all jurors in Minnesota receive a small reimbursement for their service.
  • Witness Leave – As per the Witness and Victims of Crime Leave Policy, employees who have been victims of or witnesses to a crime are entitled to take time off to attend court proceedings, provide testimony, or answer questions from law enforcement officials. Employees must provide a 48-hour notice in advance of their intention to take such leave, although exceptions can be made in cases of emergency. Employers are prohibited from taking any punitive action against employees who take advantage of this policy, including disciplinary measures, threats, or termination.
  • Voting Leave – In Minnesota, employees who are eligible to vote are entitled to paid time off from work on election day. The duration of the leave is determined by how long it takes for the employee to vote and travel back to work. Employers are not allowed to penalize employees or dock their wages for taking time off to vote.

What is Minnesota Non-Required Leave?

While it’s not mandatory for most employers to offer leaves of absence, they opt to provide some form of leave anyway as a means of optimizing productivity and keeping their staff content. The non required leaves are:

  • Sick Days Leave – While federal and state laws do not mandate employers to offer sick days to their workers, those who choose to offer this benefit must also provide additional time off for various reasons such as caring for family members, seeking help following assault or harassment, and assisting family members who have been victims of abuse. In Minnesota, sick leave and FMLA may overlap, thus requiring employers to grant leave, especially in cases where employees take care of children. In order to qualify for sick days leave, workers must have maintained a half-time position with their employer for at least one year. Local Minnesota laws, particularly in major cities such as Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, have additional sick leave requirements. In Minneapolis, employers are obligated to provide sick leave if their staff worked at least 80 hours per year in the city, and more, businesses with six or more employees must pay for leave. St. Paul has similar regulations but without employee number restrictions. Based on hours worked, Duluth employers must grant one hour of paid sick leave for every 50 hours worked within the city.
  • Vacation Leave – In Minnesota, it is not required by law for employers to offer vacation leave to their employees. However, if they do choose to offer it, they must establish a legal policy that adheres to the terms of the employment contract. Employers have the flexibility to create policies that may limit the amount of vacation leave an employee can accrue or deny payment for unused days upon contract termination. Additionally, employers may choose not to pay for vacation leave if an employee has not provided a 2-week notice, or if there are no clear regulations addressing the matter in the employment contract.
  • Holiday Leave – In Minnesota, there are no laws that mandate employers to offer their employees paid or unpaid leave when it comes to holidays.
  • Bereavement Leave – In Minnesota, the state does not regulate bereavement leave.

The following are the official federal holidays observed in the US:

State Official Holidays Date
New Year’s Day 1 January
Martin Luther King Jr. Civil Rights Day Third Monday in January
Washington’s Birthday Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
Independence Day 4 July
Labor Day First Monday in September
Columbus Day Second Monday in October
Election Day Every other year
Veterans Day 11 November
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day 25 December

What are Minnesota Child Labor Laws?

Child labor laws in Minnesota are put in place to protect minors from any potential harm that may come from working conditions. To ensure these laws are adhered to, Minnesota employers are required to have certain certifications such as Employment Certificates and Age Certificates. Employment Certificates are necessary for minors under 16 and verify that the minor is eligible to work outside of school hours. Age Certificates are not mandatory, but can be helpful in keeping track of employees’ ages.

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors in Minnesota?

Age of Minor Prohibited Work Maximum Hours per Week (non-school week) Maximum Hours per Day (non-school week) Maximum Hours per Week (school week) Maximum Hours per Day (school week) Permitted Work Hours
Under 14 All types of work, except newspaper delivery N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
14-15 Work after 7:00 p.m. (9:00 p.m. during summer) 40 hours 8 hours 18 hours 3 hours 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
16-17 Work before 5:00 a.m. on a school day, work after 11:00 p.m. on a school night 40 hours 8 hours 28 hours 8 hours 5:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Note: Work-hour restrictions can be extended by 30 minutes if the minor is employed by their parents or if they have a signed permission form the Commissioner of Labor and Industry or their parents.

In Minnesota, minors, just like general employees, are ensured a fair amount of time for meal and bathroom breaks. Employers are responsible for setting the duration of these breaks, but are required to pay for any meal breaks that last 20 minutes or less. While it is commonly agreed upon that most minors are given a 30-minute meal break, the exact length ultimately lies in the hands of the employer.  

What are the Banned Jobs for Minors in Minnesota?

Federal law prohibits minors from working in hazardous environments, regardless of age. However, minors aged 16 and 17 may work in non-hazardous environments with proper supervision and permits. Certain jobs are off-limits, such as:

  • Work involving explosives
  • Cutting equipment
  • Motor vehicles
  • Radioactive materials
  • Dangerous machinery
  • Coal and logs
  • Construction
  • Warehousing
  • Storage
  • Work in establishments that serve or house alcohol

There are a few exceptions to the regulations though, including 17-year-old high school graduates, minor employees of a business owned by parents, and those working in a safe environment free of hazardous equipment.

What Sanctions are There for Employing Minors in Minnesota?

Employers in Minnesota need to be aware of the fines they could face if they violate labor laws. According to the Minnesota Child Labor Act, penalties can range from $250 up to $5,000 and can be issued for various violations. For example, employing minors without proof of age could result in a fine of $250, while employing minors under the age of 14 or under the age of 16 during school hours, before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m., or for more than 8 hours per day can result in a $500 fine. Employers who violate laws related to employing minors in hazardous or unsafe environments face a $1,000 fine, as do those who employ high-school students under the age of 18 to work during prohibited hours. The biggest fine, amounting to $5,000, applies to incidents where minors under 18 years of age suffer injuries working in hazardous environments.

Important Cautionary Note

This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.