Focus on New Laws: Expansion of Sick Leave Benefit

The current law will be expanded to allow an employee to use sick leave to care for an adult child, spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, or stepparent.
(Published Jul 8, 2013)

Beginning Aug. 1, a new law will expand the current legal requirement to allow the use of accrued personal sick leave benefits for an absence due to illness or injury to an employee’s child or other relatives. The law now applies to adult children, spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents as well as stepparents and applies to sick leave used on or after that date.

Previously, Minnesota Statutes, section 181.9413 required that if a city provides sick leave to employees, then the city must also allow employees to use sick leave to care for their children on the same basis as the employee. (For example, if the city permits sick leave use for an employee’s physician appointment, then the employee can use sick leave for a child’s physician appointment as well).

Effective Aug. 1, the law, Chapter 87, has been expanded to include other relatives, but for these relatives, it is limited to 160 hours in any 12-month period. The 160-hour limit does not apply to the employee’s stepchildren, or to biological, adopted, or foster children who are under 18, or who are under 20 if still attending secondary school.

Because the statute is not clear, when determining the “12-month period,” the League recommends the following:

  • Be consistent in the method used for all employees and document the process the city is using for counting the “any 12-month period” provision.
  • Consider using the same 12-month method you use for the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
  • If you use a calendar year, for example, to define your 12-month period, understand an employee may be able to use 160 hours in December and then another 160 hours in January.

The use of sick leave benefits for the expanded list of relatives applies only to cities with 21 or more employees at at least one site. All employers, however, are covered by the school conference and activities leave requirements in this same section of the Minnesota statutes (School Conference and Activities Leave law: Minnesota Statutes, section 181.9412). If the city does not provide personal sick leave benefits, this bill does not require it to begin doing so.

The League has developed an FAQ document to provide cities additional guidance with this new law.

Read the current issue of the Cities Bulletin

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