Employees who accrue “sick days” provided by a Minnesota employer of 21 or more workers are able to use those days to give medical care and support to a child of any age, or a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent or stepparent, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.
Planning for the well being of a loved one can often be even more difficult than planning for our own health. When illness or a medical setback impacts a family, we often need to step up to provide care and support. Recognizing the unpredictability of sickness and health, an unstable economic climate, and expanding work-life obligations, Minnesota’s new law provides additional support and rights for employees.
Minnesota employment law
Under the new law sponsored by state Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, individuals who accrue sick time can now use those days for family care. Effective August 1, 2013, employees who accrue “sick days” provided by a Minnesota employer of 21 or more workers are able to use those days to give medical care and support to a child of any age, or a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent or stepparent, on the same terms upon which the employee is able to use sick leave benefits for the employee’s own illness or injury.
Under prior Minnesota law, employees were only allowed to use “sick days” for personal illness or to care for the illness of or injury to the employee’s child. In expanding the law to include relatives, there is a recognition of modern-day work-life obligations. The new law gives flexibility to families that require two-incomes rather than assuming there is a caregiver at home. Children get sick, parents become ill, and accident or disease can unexpectedly impact any family. Giving workers the right to use personal “sick days” to care for a family members gives workers additional opportunities to fulfill family obligations while maintaining their employment status.
Employees who need to leave work can also look to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the federal law which requires that qualified employees can take job-protected, unpaid leave to handle personal or family illness, pregnancy and adoption, or foster care placement. The goal of the FMLA is similar to the new Minnesota law in balancing the needs of businesses and the workplace with the ongoing personal obligations towards family.
With the growing elderly population, such laws will be critical in caring for aging grandparents and parents of today’s workforce. According to a recent report from AARP, nearly two-thirds of workers between the ages of 45 and 74 are responsible for providing care to an adult relative. Nearly half of U.S. employees have had to take time off to care for an elderly parent or loved one.
While the new law does provide additional support for employees, it is not a comprehensive solution. The law only applies to employers who distinguish between sick leave, vacation, and holidays. A large number of employers in the state combine “paid time off” days, and will be unaffected by the new law. In addition, the law does not require employers to provide “sick days.”
Contact a Minnesota Employment Lawyer
Our firm is committed to helping Minnesota workers and families protect their rights while ensuring compliance with state and federal laws. We are dedicated to staying abreast of current trends in employment law and in protecting the rights of workers and their loved one.
If you believe that your rights have been violated under the new Minnesota law, or have been denied or retaliated against for using FMLA leave, contact one of our employment attorneys so we can review your case and claim. More information about the Family and Medical Leave Act and Caregiver and Family Responsibilities Discrimination can be found on the Employee Rights section of our website.