Compliance Watch:
What are my rights as an hourly employee in Minnesota?

April 5th 2024

For hourly employees in Minnesota, knowing your rights go beyond legalities—it’s about empowering yourself in your career path.

Each hour spent in and out of work shapes your place in the workplace. Questions about your rights as an employee and how to use them effectively might cross your mind. Which is why it’s crucial to know your rights. It’s also important to recognize that these rights can vary significantly across states in the US.

If you’re an hourly worker in Minnesota, this guide is crafted specifically for you, ensuring you’re well-equipped to protect yourself and proactively shape your work experience.

This Article Covers

Defining an Hourly Employee in Minnesota
Wage and Hour Regulations in Minnesota
Rest Laws in Minnesota
Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Minnesota
Termination of Employment in Minnesota

Defining an Hourly Employee in Minnesota

What is Hourly Employment in Minnesota?

An hourly employee in Minnesota is someone who gets paid based on the number of hours they work in a given pay period. Their earnings tend to fluctuate between pay periods due to the variable nature of their work, determined by their employer’s needs.

Keeping accurate records of working hours is crucial for hourly employees. Employers often use tools like timesheet apps or time cards to verify the hours worked, ensuring that these employees receive precise compensation for their actual work hours.

On the other hand, salaried employees receive a fixed annual salary regardless of their working hours. While they might also use timesheets to track attendance, their pay remains consistent, unlike hourly employees whose earnings vary based on hours worked.

Moreover, hourly employees might be eligible for extra overtime pay, which is when they work more than the standard workweek. However, they might receive fewer job benefits, such as health insurance or retirement benefits, compared to salaried employees.

What are the Key Differences Between Salaried and Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

Aspect Hourly Employees Salaried Employees
Pay Frequency Paid for every hour worked. Paid on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. 
Overtime Laws Qualified to earn overtime pay for working more than 48 hours in a week at the rate of 150% of the regular rate of pay under state law. May not be qualified to earn overtime pay if the employee is classified as exempt under state law.
Minimum Wage Laws Qualified to earn an hourly minimum wage of $10.85 for employees of large employers (with annual gross revenues of $500,000 or more) or $8.85 for employees of small employers (with annual gross revenues less than $500,000)  May not be qualified to earn the state’s minimum wage if the employee is classified as exempt under state law.
Severance Pay No legal entitlement under state law or federal law to receive severance pay. No legal entitlement under state law or federal law to receive severance pay.
Rest Room Breaks Entitled by state law to use the nearest restroom for every four hours of work. Entitled by state law to use the nearest restroom for every four hours of work.
School Activity And Conference Leave Legally entitled by state law to use up to 16 hours of leave during any 12 months to attend to their children or foster children’s school conferences or other school-related activities, if such activities cannot be attended outside regular working hours. Legally entitled by state law to use up to 16 hours of leave during any 12 months to attend to their children or foster children’s school conferences or other school-related activities, if such activities cannot be attended outside regular working hours.
Final Paycheck Employees are entitled by the state’s wage and hour laws to receive their final paycheck. Employees are entitled by the state’s wage and hour laws to receive their final paycheck.

To learn more about Minnesota labor laws, you can access our informative guides on understanding the rights of salaried employees in Minnesota, as well as Minnesota overtime laws.

Wage and Hour Regulations in Minnesota

What are the Maximum Weekly Working Hours in Minnesota?

Notably, similar to many other states in the U.S., there are no laws at federal and state standard that strictly implements the number of working hours an employee is required to work every week. However, state labor law does require employers to pay employees at a rate of one and a half times an employee’s usual hourly pay for every hour worked beyond 48 hours a week, unless otherwise exempt.

In short, overtime requirements are designed to ensure that employees are fairly paid for the hours they work and to deter employers from taking advantage of the labor of their current workforce and instead, focus on expanding it.

What is the Minimum Wage for Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

As of January 1, 2024, the minimum wage rate in Minnesota has been increased. For “large employers,” which are defined as employers with annual gross revenues of $500,000 or more, the new minimum wage rate is $10.85 per hour.

For “small employers,” which are employers with annual gross revenues less than $500,000, the new minimum wage rate is $8.85 per hour, up from the previous rate of $8.42 per hour. These adjustments are aimed at ensuring that both large and small employers in Minnesota provide their hourly employees with fair and competitive wages.

The annual adjustment of the minimum wage reflects Minnesota’s commitment to upholding reasonable standards of living for its employees. By keeping the minimum wage in line with inflation, Minnesota aims to grant employees a wage that better aligns with the increasing costs of goods and services, ultimately contributing to a higher quality of life for its employees.

How Many Hours Qualify As Overtime and What is the Associated Pay in Minnesota?

In the state of Minnesota, the labor laws highlight that any hours worked more than 48 hours a week are considered overtime hours for which an employer must compensate an employee at a rate of one and a half times the regular hourly wage for every overtime hour worked. Therefore, if you are working over the weekly 48-hour threshold, you must be compensated accordingly.

Rest Laws in Minnesota

What are the Offered Meal and Rest Breaks for Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

In conclusion, Minnesota upholds the importance of meal and rest breaks for hourly employees to maintain their well-being and productivity. These breaks are governed by particular statutes that legally entitle hourly employees to meal and rest breaks. These breaks ensure that employees have ample time for essential activities like using the restroom and having a meal during their work shifts. Let us now take a closer look at Minnesota’s hourly employees’ offered meal and rest breaks.

  • Restroom Breaks: Minnesota break laws require employers to grant employees time to use the nearest restroom for every four consecutive hours of work. This provision ensures the health of employees is protected by providing them with reasonable access to restroom facilities.
  • Meal Breaks: Hourly employees who are scheduled to work eight or more consecutive hours are entitled to meal breaks. During these breaks, employees must be completely relieved of their work duties for 20 minutes at minimum. This gives them enough time to eat their meal and reset themselves before returning to work.
  • Duration of Breaks: It must be borne in mind that breaks lasting 20 minutes or less are counted as hours worked and must be paid accordingly. For breaks to be unpaid, employees must be fully relieved of their duties for at least 20 minutes.
  • Breastfeeding Breaks: The laws of Minnesota compel employers to provide employed nursing mothers with reasonable breastfeeding break times to expel milk for their baby for up to one year after childbirth. These breaks may run concurrently with any other break time that has already been provided to them. Employers must provide employees with a clean non-bathroom area that is free from public intrusion and has access to an electrical outlet where employees can express milk in privacy. However, if such accommodations would unduly disrupt the operations of the business, the employer is not required to provide such break times.

What Laws Govern Time Off and Leaves for Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

Ensuring that employees can take necessary time off from work is crucial for their well-being and productivity. In Minnesota, various laws cover different aspects of time off, ranging from family and medical leave to bone marrow and organ donation situations. Presented below are some of the many primary laws addressing these matters.

  • Crime Victim Leave: Employees who are crime victims must be given reasonable time off by their employers to attend criminal proceedings initiated due to a subpoena or request from the prosecutor without having to face any adverse personnel actions taken against them by their employers for doing so.
  • Witness Leave: Employees who are required to appear as a witness in criminal proceedings initiated due to a subpoena or request from the prosecutor must be given witness leave without having to face any adverse personnel actions taken against them by their employers for doing so.
  • Voting Leave: Employees must be given paid time off to vote by their employers.
  • Jury Duty Leave: Employees must be given jury duty leave if they are called to serve on a jury. While employers do not necessarily have to pay employees for the time spent responding to a jury summons, they cannot penalize their employees for doing so.
  • Military Leave: Employers in Minnesota are subject to the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). This law ensures that employees can take military leave while being entitled to the right to return to their previously held position, complete with accrued leave benefits like sick, vacation, and annual leave. Furthermore, it safeguards employees from unjust termination for a year following their military service.
  • Family and Medical Leave: The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provisions grant employees a 12-week unpaid annual leave for addressing issues concerning serious medical conditions of the employee or their immediate family member, the birth or adoption of a child, or specific military activities. Employees will only be eligible for this leave if they fulfill the following conditions:
  1. Have at least 12 months of continuous employment with the same employer before using their leave.
  2. Have worked at least 1,250 hours within those 12 months of employment with the same employer.
  3. Be employed by an employer with a workforce of 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius.

Deductions, Benefits, and Protections in Minnesota

What are the Laws Regarding Pay Deductions for Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

Your employer may deduct a portion of your wages for a variety of reasons. Typically, these deductions are paid toward plans that benefit an employee. Like in many other U.S. states, Minnesota has implemented laws that govern the manner of deductions concerning an employee’s wages to ensure that such deductions are legally compliant and are done equitably. Below is an explanation of when payroll deductions are allowed to be made in the state of Minnesota according to state law.

Minnesota employers are allowed to make deductions in your paycheck if it concerns any of the following reasons: 

  • Union-agreed deductions.
  • Payback for employer loans.
  • Court-ordered withholdings.
  • Pension or retirement funds.
  • Retirement.
  • Health benefits.
  • Uniforms or equipment (up to $50), must be paid back when the employee leaves.

Moreover, if you have given prior consent to the deduction or have been found liable in court, your employer may deduct your wages for broken equipment, lost money, or other losses.

Additionally, a pay statement must be issued each payday to you by your employer highlighting the deductions that have been made in that particular pay period, the net pay after deductions as well as other details.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Entitlements Under Minnesota State Law?

Employment privileges are a crucial aspect of the work landscape. They are crafted to foster an equitable and fair workplace, ensuring that employees receive their legally mandated benefits, wages, and protections. Beyond legal compliance, these privileges help boost the overall well-being and financial stability of employees, thereby improving job satisfaction and morale. In Minnesota, a spectrum of laws have been implemented to uphold the rights of employees throughout their employment journey. The list below comprises some of the many entitlements given to employees.

  • Minimum Wage: Employees have the right under Minnesota laws to earn an hourly wage of $10.85 (for employers with an annual gross revenue of $500,000 or more) or $8.85 (for small employers with an annual gross revenue of less than $500,000).
  • Overtime: Employees have the right under state law to earn 1.5 times their regular hourly wage for every hour they have worked over 48 hours a week. 
  • Worker’s Compensation Insurance: If an employee has sustained any occupational-related injury or illness, they have the right under Minnesota’s laws to have their medical costs paid for under the workers’ compensation insurance. However, limited exceptions may apply that bar employees from receiving these insurance benefits including independent contractors and sole proprietors.
  • Unemployment Insurance Benefits: If an employee has lost their job recently without fault of their own, they are entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits covered by their employer.
  • Extended Health Insurance Benefits: According to the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), employees are permitted to extend their health insurance coverage after being separated from their employment. Since COBRA is only applicable to employers with 20 or more employees, Minnesota has introduced its variant of the law, providing the option to extend their health insurance coverage for up to 18 months. A notice of an employee’s COBRA rights must be issued by the employer within 15 days from the triggering event.

What are the Provided Hourly Employees Protections Under Minnesota State Law?

Minnesota has implemented various laws designed to protect workers and guarantee fair treatment in the working environment. Now, let’s delve into the extensive rights that are legally granted to hourly employees in the state.

  • Child Labor Protection: Like many other states, Minnesota has implemented certain laws regulating child labor to protect the well-being and safety of minors during their employment tenure. For instance, Minnesota has established legal restrictions relating to child employment with regards to their age, the type of job the minor is allowed to work in as well as employment when school is not in session.
  • Discrimination Protection: Federal law disallows employers from discriminating based on protected characteristics such as race, age, sex, religion, and more. Minnesota’s laws go further to prevent discrimination based on receipt of public assistance, marital status, local Human Rights Commission activity, use of lawful consumable products off the premises and outside of work hours, and wage garnishment for consumer debt.
  • Polygraph Testing Protection: In Minnesota, employers cannot directly or indirectly require or solicit employees or applicants to take a polygraph test to determine their honesty.
  • Ban-the-Box Protection Law: In Minnesota, employers are forbidden from asking about an applicant’s past criminal history until they are shortlisted for an interview. If interviews are not held, employers may not inquire until a conditional job offer has been extended. Employers can factor in conviction records, but they should consider the recentness and relevance of the crime about the position for which an applicant has applied.
  • Whistleblower Protection: In Minnesota, employees who have reported to the appropriate authorities about a legal violation in good faith are protected from being discharged or discriminated against by their employers. The same applies to healthcare employees who report a violation of the standard of care.

Termination of Employment in Minnesota

What are the Termination Laws for Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

The state of Minnesota adopts the employment-at-will legal concept in the regulation of its employment relationships. According to this legal principle, employers are free to terminate their employees at any time and without any justification for doing so.

Similarly, the employee is free to quit their employment at any given time without having to disclose their reasons for doing so. While these laws generally take precedence in their application, several exceptions exist that limit an employer’s free will to terminate an employee. These exceptions are listed below. 

  • Breach of Contract: If an employee and an employer enter into an employment contract, they will be strictly bound by its terms. This means that employees do not have the free will to quit their employment at any time that they wish and employers cannot simply terminate their employees for reasons other than those stated in the contract or whenever they wish. These rules apply for both written and oral contracts as well as collective bargaining agreements and employee handbooks. For instance, if the handbook requires the termination of an employee after giving them three warnings and the employer simply terminates the employee with no prior warning, the employee has the right to sue the employer for breach of contract. 
  • Public Policy: According to the concept of public policy, employers are prohibited from terminating their employees based on reasons that are regarded as illegitimate. For instance, an employer cannot terminate an employee who refuses to lie about their employers or for reporting poor healthcare services provided by healthcare organizations as these reasons contradict public policy rules. 
  • Discrimination: Employers in Minnesota cannot fire employees because of their religious beliefs, race, color, country of origin, or disability status, among other areas. However, only in rare circumstances, can an employer base their employment decisions on one’s protected characteristics when it is considered as a genuine qualification for the job in question.
  • Retaliation: Employers in the state are prohibited from retaliating against their employees who whistleblow in good faith by filing complaints concerning workplace matters such as unfair and unsanitary working conditions, sexual harassment, or the failure of an employer to pay for overtime. In addition to this, the termination of an employee for their refusal to participate in illegal activities at the request of an employer is also disallowed. 

Furthermore, according to Minnesota’s wage and hour laws, an employee who is terminated must be promptly given their final paycheck within 24 hours. However, if the employee was responsible for dealing with the employer’s finances or property, the employer has a 10-day time frame to review and adjust the accounts before issuing the final paycheck.

In instances of an employee quitting, the employer must issue the final paycheck by the next regularly scheduled payday. If this payday occurs within 5 days after the employee’s departure, the employer has the choice to delay the issuance of the final paycheck until the second payday or within 20 days.

Should Severance Pay Be Provided to Hourly Employees in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, the provision of severance pay to hourly employees is not mandated by state or federal law, unlike other employment entitlements like minimum wage, overtime pay, or workers’ compensation.  Instead, the provision of this fee to all types of employees is left to the discretion of the employer.

However, employers who do choose to offer severance pay to their employees must have these payments outlined as provisions in their company policies or employment contracts. Due to this, as a working employee in Minnesota, it is important to remain aware of what is mentioned in the employment contract, company handbook, or collective bargaining agreement about severance pay as the details of such provision of payments can vary widely from one employer to another.

Final Thoughts

In summary, employment laws in Minnesota provide a similar level of flexibility for both employers and employees. The state follows the “employment-at-will” doctrine, allowing employers to terminate employees without a written contract, as long as it’s not based on illegal discrimination or retaliation. Minnesota, like Kansas, does not require employers to provide severance pay, leaving it to the employer’s discretion. While there are minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, additional benefits like vacation and holiday pay are typically determined by the employer.

Minnesota also provides strong protections against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, ensuring that employees are safeguarded based on various characteristics. To maintain productive and legally compliant working relationships, both employers and employees in Minnesota should have a comprehensive understanding of these employment laws.

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.