Webinar Recap: Earned Sick and Safe Time, A Guide for Business

Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce


There are many details for businesses and HR administrators to understand before January 1, 2024, as they comply with the new Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) law. To help answer your questions and clarify the new rules, we recently hosted a webinar with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI).

What is Earned Safe and Sick Time (ESST)?

Sick and Safe Time is paid time off that employees who work in Minnesota can use for certain reasons, including when they are sick, to care for a sick family member, or to seek assistance if they or a family member have experienced domestic abuse.

Under the new rule, Minnesota businesses must provide at least 48 hours of paid annual leave to most employees who work at least 80 hours annually. Independent contractors can be excluded, but temporary and part-time workers are included.

What Family Members are Included?

There are a broad set of family members included. You can view the DLI’s Earned Sick and Safe Time website for full details.

What Can ESST be used for?

Employees can use their sick and safe time for the following reasons.

  • Employee’s mental or physical illness or preventive care
  • A family member’s mental or physical illness or preventive care
  • Absence due to domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking of employee or family member
  • Closure of employee’s work place (at the discretion of the employer) due to weather and public emergency
  • When determined by a health authority or health care professional that the employee or family member is at risk of infecting others with a communicable disease.

What Notice Requirements Do Employers Have?

Employers must include the total number of earned sick and safe time hours accrued and available for use, plus total number of earned sick and safe time hours used on earnings statements provided to employees at the end of each pay period. Employers also need to provide a notice by January 1, 2024—or the start of employment, whichever is later—informing them about ESST. Employers need to include ESST notice in the employee handbook, if the employer has an employee handbook.

How to Employees Begin to Accrue ESST?

There are a few different options for accruing, “front-loading”, and carrying over unused ESST hours. The options include

  • accrual and carryover,
  • “front loading” with payout and no carryover, and
  • “front loading” with no payout and no carryover.

The DIL’s website has an in-depth overview of each of these scenarios with examples.  

Can Employers Require Notice or Documentation to Use ESST?

An employer can require notice of up to seven days in advance when the need to use ESST is foreseeable. But if an employee (or the employee’s family member) is sick unexpectedly, notice to use ESST should be as soon as practicable.

An employer may require an employee to provide reasonable documentation of ESST use when more than three consecutive days of ESST are used. If an employee is unable to provide the documentation, the employee may supply the employer with a written statement that the employee used ESST for a qualifying purpose.

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