Table of Contents

May 2024

Ensure Compliance with Wage and Hour Laws When Hiring Teens for Summer Positions

As you hire teens for summer positions, it’s crucial to ensure compliance with wage and hour laws. Join us on May 21 for a free webinar about child labor laws and tips to keep teen workers safe. Here’s an overview of some topics that will be reviewed during the webinar.

Age, Hours Restrictions

In Minnesota, teens can start working at 14 years of age except as a newspaper carrier (at least 11), in agriculture (at least 12 and with parent consent), as an actor/model or a youth athletic program referee (at least 11 and with parent consent).

Minors under 16 can’t work before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m., over 40 hours a week or more than eight hours in a day. They also can’t work during school hours unless they have permission from the school district superintendent and federal law.

Fourteen is the minimum age of employment in Minnesota, except as:

  • a newspaper carrier (at least 11 years of age);
  • in agriculture (at least 12 years of age and with parental/guardian consent);
  • an actor, actress or model; or
  • a youth athletic program referee (at least 11 years of age and with parental or guardian consent).

Age and Hours of Work

Workers Under the Age of 16 May Not Work

A minor less than 16 years of age may not work:

  • before 7 a.m. or after 9 p.m.* with the exception of a newspaper carrier;
  • more than 40 hours a week or more than eight hours in a 24-hour period*, except in agriculture;
  • on school days during school hours, unless an employment certificate has been issued by the school district superintendent (see Minnesota Statutes 181A.05) and the worker is allowed to work during school hours under federal law.

*During the school year, federal law restricts hours worked to no later than 7 p.m., no more than three hours a day and not more than 18 hours in a week.

Workers Age 16 or 17

By state law, 16- and 17-year old high school students may not work after 11 p.m. on evenings before school days or before 5 a.m. on school days. With written permission from a parent or guardian, these hours may be expanded to 11:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. No other limit is set for the hours that 16- and 17-year-olds can work. High school graduates who are 17 years old do not have work hour restrictions.

State and Federal Child Labor Laws

Employers are generally subject to both state child labor laws and the federal child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Certain Minnesota child labor laws are more protective than federal law and vice versa. Employers covered by both Minnesota child labor laws and the federal FLSA must follow the most protective provisions that apply to their employees. Visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/child-labor for more information about federal child labor law.

For More Information

Contact Department of Labor and Industry at dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us, 651-284-5075 or 800-342-5354.

Prohibited Work for Workers Under 18 Years of Age

Teens under 18 can’t work with certain hazardous materials, operations or machines, such as construction projects, high window washing or painting or use power-driven machines.

They also can’t work with alcohol in places where it’s consumed, with some exceptions. Also, teens under 16 can’t do certain types of work.

The commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry has established some occupations as hazardous for workers under the age of 18. Additionally, there is work that is prohibited for minors under the age of 16.

Those under the age of 18 are prohibited from the following work.

Hazardous Materials

  • where chemicals or other substances are present at excessive temperatures or in injurious, explosive, toxic or flammable quantities;
  • or where explosives or fireworks are manufactured, stored, handled or fired.

Hazardous Operations, Machinery

  • on construction or building projects of any size;
  • in or around logging or lumbering operations; paper, saw, lathe and shingle mills; mines, quarries and sand or gravel pits; construction or building projects; and ice harvesting operations;
  • in building maintenance, window washing, painting or repair higher than 12 feet above ground or floor level using ladders, scaffolding, safety belts, outside vertical conveyors or similar equipment;
  • in oxy-acetylene or oxy-hydrogen welding;
  • operating or assisting in the operation of power-driven machinery, such as forklifts, meat saws and grinders, milling machines, punch presses, press brakes and shears, and woodworking machinery; and
  • operating any non-automatic elevator, lift or hoisting machine.

Liquor

  • serving, dispensing or handling intoxicating liquors that are consumed on the premises; and
  • working in rooms where liquor is served or consumed, with the following exceptions:
    • 16-year-olds may perform busing, dishwashing or hosting duties in a restaurant where the presence of intoxicating liquors is incidental to food service and preparation, and
    • 16-year-olds may provide musical entertainment in a restaurant where the presence of intoxicating liquors is incidental to food service and preparation.

Note:  Department of Public Safety liquor-control laws prohibit serving or selling intoxicating liquor in a retail liquor establishment by minors less than 18 years of age.

Tobacco

There is no state restriction on age for selling tobacco products. Check the local ordinance for the location of the operation.

Transportation

  • on boats or vessels used for commercial purposes, except if performing guide or other non-operational duties;
  • driving buses, cabs or other passenger-carrying vehicles as a driver; and
  • in certain railway occupations.

Other Limitations

  • in aerial or other acrobatic acts; and
  • as a lifeguard, except for a minor with a Red Cross lifesaving certificate who works with uninterrupted adult supervision.

Exceptions to The Prohibited-Work Limitations

Exceptions to prohibited-work limitations include:

  • a 17-year-old high school graduate;
  • a minor employed by a business solely owned and daily supervised by one or both parents; and
  • a minor employed at tasks away from or outside the area of hazardous operation, equipment or materials.

The commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry has established some occupations as hazardous or detrimental to the well being of workers under the age of 16. Additionally, there is work that is prohibited for all workers under the age of 18.

Those under the age of 16 are prohibited from the following work.

Agriculture

Machinery, Operations

  • operating or assisting in the operation of machinery;
  • operating laundry, rug cleaning or dry-cleaning equipment;
  • operating power-driven snowblowers, lawn mowers or garden equipment;
  • operating drill presses, milling machines, grinders, lathes and portable power-driven machinery such as drills, sanders, and polishing and scrubbing equipment for floor maintenance;
  • operating meat slicers, textile-making machines or bakery machinery;
  • oiling, cleaning or maintaining any power-driven machinery;
  • using pits, racks or lifting apparatus at service stations or in mounting tires on rims; and
  •  in a car wash to attach cars to or detach them from mechanized conveyor lines or to operate or contact the car while it is connected to the conveyor.
  • welding;
  • as a loader or launcher for skeet- or trap-shooting;
  • in a manufacturing or commercial warehouse; and
  • in a processing plant.

Transportation

  • in or around an airport landing strip and maintenance aprons; and
  • as an outside helper on a motor vehicle.

Other limitations

  • lifting, carrying or caring for patients in hospitals or nursing homes; and
  •  in walk-in meat freezers or meat coolers, except for occasional entrance.

Exceptions to the Prohibited-Work Limitations

Exceptions to the prohibited-work limitations include:

  • a minor employed by a business solely owned and daily supervised by one or both parents; and
  • a minor employed at tasks away from or outside the area of hazardous operation, equipment or materials.

State and Federal Child Labor Laws

Employers are generally subject to both state child labor laws and the federal child labor provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Certain Minnesota child labor laws are more protective than federal law and vice versa. Employers covered by both Minnesota child labor laws and the federal FLSA must follow the most protective provisions that apply to their employees. Visit www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/child-labor for more information about federal child labor law.

Child labor webinar, register now

Learn more about child labor laws at a webinar on May 21, from 10-11 a.m. Register at dli.mn.gov/events.

New overtime rule for workers

The U.S. Department of Labor has a new overtime regulation that affects employers in Minnesota.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), some workers are specifically exempt from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections, including bona fide executive, administrative or professional employees. This exemption applies when:

  1. an employee is paid a salary;
  2. the salary is not less than a minimum salary threshold amount; and
  3. the employee primarily performs executive, administrative or professional duties.

The department’s final rule, which will go into effect on July 1, 2024, will increase the standard salary level that helps define and delimit which salaried workers are entitled to overtime pay protections under the FLSA. Learn more at dol.gov/OT.

Wage and Hour questions

The Department of Labor and Industry’s Labor Standards Division frequently answers wage and hour questions and aims to protect the rights of workers and educate employers and employees about the rights and responsibilities under Minnesota employment laws.

To help employers and employees understand their rights and responsibilities under these laws, we will feature some of these questions monthly.

Question of the month

Does the earned sick and safe time (ESST) law apply to employees living in Minnesota whose employer is based out of state?

To be eligible for ESST, the employer must anticipate that the employee will work at least 80 hours in Minnesota in a year. An employer based in another state may still have to provide ESST for their employees who work in Minnesota.

April 2024

Taking Time Off for a Child’s School Conference or Activity? There’s a Law for That.

Did you know there’s a state law that allows eligible employees to take up to 16 hours of unpaid leave per year per child for school-related events?

Under Minnesota’s School Conference and Activities Leave law all employees qualify for school activities leave, regardless of employer size or seniority. The leave can be used for conferences and activities that cannot be scheduled outside the employee’s work hours.

Employees can get up to 16 hours off for their children under 18 or under 20 if they are in high school. This includes biological, adopted and foster children.

Employees can also use school activities leave to attend events for prekindergarten programs or special education programs. Employees should try, if possible, to give early notice for time off and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave when it will not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

School Conference and Activities Leave

Minnesota’s School Conference and Activities Leave law allows eligible employees up to 16 hours of unpaid leave from work to attend their child’s school conferences and activities each year and for each child (see Minnesota Statutes 181.9412).

Which employees are eligible?
All employees are eligible regardless of the size of their employer or amount of time for which they have worked for their employer.

Who is considered a child?
“Child” includes any child of the employee, whether biological, adopted or foster, who is younger than 18 or who is younger than 20 and is still attending secondary school. Eligible employees can receive up to 16 hours for each child.

Employees get 16 hours each school year?
An employee must be granted up to 16 leave hours for each child during any 12-month period. This is sometimes referred to as a 12-month, rolling calendar.

Can an employee choose to use vacation time for school activities leave?
The employee may choose to use available vacation or paid-time-off (PTO) leave, but the employer cannot require it.

What is considered a school activity?
Leave can be used to attend school conferences and school-related activities that cannot be scheduled during non-work hours.

Are toddler-age child care, special education programs or pre-kindergarten children included?
Yes, school activities leave may be used to attend a conference or activity related to an employee’s child who is too young for primary school or attends special education programs.

Is advance notice required?
When possible, the employee must provide reasonable advance notice before the leave and make a reasonable effort to schedule the leave when it will not unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.

Questions?

Contact Labor Standards with questions about the school activities leave law at 651-284-5075 or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.

Join Us May 13 to Celebrate 10 Years of Advancing Women’s Economic Wellbeing

Join us May 13 from 8 a.m. to noon to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).

The free event includes panels and speakers discussing WESA and its impact on the lives of Minnesota women and their families.

Space is limited and registration is required. Food and refreshments will be provided. Register to attend in person or virtually at dli.mn.gov/wesa.

The event is sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, the Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Department of Human Rights, the Department of Health, the Office on the Economic Status of Women, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, Gender Justice and AARP Minnesota.

We’re Hiring

The Labors Standards Division is hiring a senior labor investigator to help prevent violations as well as pursue enforcement activity related to Minnesota’s Prevailing Wage Act. Spanish fluency is required.

Applications close April 22. Visit mn.gov/mmb/careers/search-for-jobs and enter job I.D. 75664.

The Labor Standards Division is also hiring two labor investigators (one position bilingual preferred and one position bilingual required) to serve as the initial point of contact for employers and workers that need assistance with compliance and enforcement of Minnesota wage and hour laws.

Applications close April 23. Visit mn.gov/mmb/careers/search-for-jobs  and enter job I.D. 75642 or 75644.

March 2024

Your Guide to Compliance: Agricultural Law Changes

It’s spring, which means agricultural employers in Minnesota will be recruiting workers.

There are state and federal laws that apply to agricultural employers and workers, including minimum wage, overtime, employee notice requirements and more. Some of these laws have been updated recently. The following is a brief overview.

Required Employment Statement

A broadened definition of agricultural labor and a change in an employer size requirement means more agricultural employers in Minnesota must provide migrant agricultural workers with an employment statement or a “migrant contract.”

Previously, employers only had to provide an employment statement to migrant cannery workers. Now, employers must provide an employment statement to all recruited migrant agricultural workers, who are defined as people at least 17 years of age who travel more than 100 miles to Minnesota from another state to work in agriculture based on an offer or the possibility of employment. (Note:  These workers are different from H-2A temporary agricultural workers who travel from another country, not another state, to Minnesota. This law does not apply to H-2A workers.)

In addition, state law previously defined an employer of migrant agricultural workers as someone who hired 30 migrant agricultural workers in a year; now the threshold is just one migrant agricultural worker in a year.

Find a sample employment statement in English and Spanish, as well as other information about wage and hour law relevant to agricultural workers, at dli.mn.gov/agriculture.

Meat-Processing Worker Notice Translated

Under the new Safe Workplaces for Meat and Poultry Processing Workers Act, all meat-processing employers in Minnesota must provide written information and notifications about employee rights under the act to workers in their language of fluency at least annually.

The Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has prepared a sample employee notice that employers can use. It is available in English, Hmong, Russian, Somali and Spanish on the Workplace notices and posters webpage.

Save the Date: Agricultural, Meat- and Poultry-Processing Employers and Workers Webinar April 23

DLI’s Labor Standards Division is providing a series of webinars to help workers and employers better understand the state’s wage and hour laws.

The first webinar on Tuesday, April 23, will provide information about laws applicable to employers and workers in agricultural and meat- and poultry-processing industries. Register at events.gcc.teams.microsoft.com/event/ed32dfbf-cc68-4a4e-af80-945a035d9c28@eb14b046-24c4-4519-8f26-b89c2159828c.

Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Event in North Mankato

Learn about ESST and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act at South Central College in North Mankato on March 28, from 9 a.m. to noon.

Presenters include representatives from DLI and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division. The event is hosted by the CareerForce location in Mankato.

Register at forms.office.com/g/YmCMaQd75C?origin=lprLink.

Can’t attend? Watch a recorded presentation about ESST in EnglishSomali or Spanish.

February 2024

When Are Employees Owed Their Last Paycheck?

When an employee is fired or quits, Minnesota final pay laws determine when they are owed their last paycheck.

Employers are required to give a former employee their paycheck:

    • Within 24 hours of the employee making a written demand for payment to the employer. This includes employees who are terminated, discharged or fired.
    • The next regularly scheduled payday or, if the payday is within five days of the last day of work, up to 20 days if the employee does not make a written demand. This includes employees who voluntarily leave employment (quit), are terminated, discharged or fired.

If an employer does not pay an employee after receiving a written demand letter, the employee can contact the Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI’s) Labor Standards Division to file a wage claim.

Making a Demand for Final Wages

File a Wage Claim

Employees terminated, discharged or fired are due all wages and commissions with 24 hours of a written demand for payment to the employer.

Employees who voluntarily leave employment (quit), are terminated, discharged or fired, but do not make a written demand, are due all wages and commissions on the next regularly scheduled payday. If the payday is within five days of the last day of work, the employer may have up to 20 days to make final payment.

  • View/print:  Final pay laws and wage claim process – Español,

English Version

Final pay laws and wage claim process

WAGES DUE UPON SEPARATION

If an employee is terminated, discharged or fired, all wages and commissions owed at that time are due upon separation or within 24 hours of the employee’s demand for the wages.

If an employee leaves employment voluntarily (quits), all wages and commissions owed at the time of separation are due on the next regularly scheduled payday. If the next payday following the employee’s last day of work is within five days of the employee’s last day of work, then the employer will have until the pay period after that to issue all final wages. However, under no circumstances can the wages be paid any later than 20 days from the employee’s last day of work. Employees who have quit and have not received their final wages within the required time period may also demand their wages.

PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO PAY FINAL WAGES

Under Minnesota’s laws, if the employer fails to pay final wages promptly, employees may collect the amount of the employee’s average daily earnings for each day the employer is late in paying the wages, up to 15 days.

FILING A WAGE CLAIM WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY

If an employee is unsuccessful in collecting final wages from their employer under the requirements listed above (24 hours if terminated, 20 days if quit), the employee can call the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to make a claim for wages and report the employer’s violation of law.

If you have not received final wages from an employer after making a demand for wages, call Labor Standards at 651-284-5075 to file a wage claim. Have the following information ready:

• your name, address and telephone number;
• your former employer’s name, address, telephone number and manager or owner’s name;
• your last day of work;
• the date you demanded your final wages;
• the amount you are due in final wages (if unknown provide as accurate an estimate as possible); and
• the dates you worked for your former employer yet were not paid.

RIGHT TO PRIVATE ACTION
In addition to filing a wage claim with the Department of Labor and Industry, employees also have the right to file a private action in court.

If the amount of wages and penalties due equals $15,000 or less, the employee may file in small claims court (conciliation court). Otherwise the employee must file in District Court.

For more information about filing a claim in court, visit mncourts.gov/selfhelp.

Notice: This flier is a brief summary of Minnesota law. It is intended as a guide and is not to be considered a substitute for Minnesota Statutes regarding final pay laws.

Additional Resources

To review the language of the act, see Minnesota Statutes, sections 179.87 to 179.877.

For questions about the act, contact DLI’s Labor Standards Division at:  Labor Standards Division, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, 443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155; 651-284-5075; or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.

How to Make a Demand for Your Final Wages

You can take the following steps to obtain your final wages.

  1. Write and deliver a letter to your former employer demanding your wages. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) has prepared a sample letter for those who have quit a job (Español) and for those who have been terminated from a job (Español). You may want to use certified mail so you know when the employer received your letter.
  2. If your employer does not pay you after receiving your letter, contact the Labor Standards Division to file a wage claim. The following information will be requested:
    – the employer’s name, address, telephone number and the manager or owner’s name;
    – the date of your last day of work;
    – the date you demanded your final wages; and
    – the amount you are due in final wages.
  3. Employees also have the option of filing a claim in court if the employer does not pay final wages as required under Minnesota law.– By filing a claim in court, an employee may also recover one day of average wages for each day the employer is late in paying (up to 15 days).

NEW:  Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) Video, Grant

The Department of Human Services Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division has created an ESST video in American Sign Language with English captions. The video is available in the “Resources” section at dli.mn.gov/sick-leave.

In addition, DLI is seeking organizational applicants for a grant program to increase awareness of the ESST law. Learn more and apply at dli.mn.gov/business/employment-practices/earned-sick-and-safe-time-engagement-and-education-grant.

Think You May be Owed Back-Wages?

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is seeking workers who may be owed wages. Nationwide, there is more than $161 million owed to more than 222,000 workers that sits unclaimed. For more information and to access the federal unclaimed wage database, visit dol.gov/agencies/whd/wow.

Find more information about the Minnesota Unclaimed Property database at dli.mn.gov/business/employment-practices/unclaimed-back-wages.

New Fund Reimburses Employers for Accommodations

Across Minnesota, people with disabilities are working in every kind of job. Some people with disabilities have adapted part of their job to make it possible to perform their job duties. Under state and federal law, employers are required to provide and pay for the cost of reasonable workplace accommodations for employees with disabilities.

Small and mid-sized businesses in Minnesota can apply for reimbursement for the cost of accommodations through the new Employer Reasonable Accommodation Fund. Learn more and apply at mn.gov/deed/business/financing-business/eraf.

We’re Hiring:  Labor Investigator, Intake

Labor Standards is hiring a labor investigator who will conduct intake for claims for wage and hour complaints and respond to public inquiries about wage and hour laws. Candidates are required to be fluent in Spanish.

For more information, visit the Minnesota Careers website, click “View All Jobs” and enter job I.D. number 73617 for complete information and to apply.

January 2024

Stay Compliant:  Explore New Labor Laws and Resources

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has created new resources related to laws that went into effect this year, including a webpage about keeping workers safe in meatpacking and poultry processing facilities and another webpage related to a new law ensuring only skilled workers are hired at oil refineries.

SAFE WORKPLACES FOR MEAT AND POULTRY PROCESSING WORKERS ACT

Overview

Protections for Meat-processing Workers

The act provides protections for meat-processing workers, including employees, independent contractors and persons hired through a temporary service or staffing agency. Meat-processing workers are those who, while doing work for a meat-processing employer:  work directly in contact with raw meatpacking products in a meatpacking operation; inspect or package meatpacking products; or clean, maintain or sanitize equipment or surfaces.

Applicable Employers

“Meatpacking operation” or “meat-processing employer” means a meatpacking or poultry processing site with 100 or more employees in Minnesota and a North American Industrial Classification System (NAICS) code of 311611 to 311615, excluding NAICS code 311613.

Meatpacking operation or meat-processing employer does not include a grocery store, butcher shop, meat market, deli, restaurant or other business preparing meatpacking products for immediate consumption or for sale in a retail establishment or otherwise directly to an end-consumer.

Role of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

The commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) enforces the act, including inspecting, reviewing and recommending improvements to the practices and procedures of meatpacking operations in Minnesota. A meat-processing employer must grant DLI full access to all meatpacking operations in the state at any time that meatpacking products are being processed or meat-processing workers are on the job.

DLI is required to appoint a meatpacking industry worker rights coordinator. DLI’s worker rights coordinator must notify relevant employers of the act and any recent updates at least annually.

Health and Safety

Ergonomics Committee

Meat-processing employers must have an ergonomics program developed and implemented by a committee of individuals who are knowledgeable about the tasks and work processes performed by workers at the employer’s facility. The committee must include:

  • a certified professional ergonomist;
  • a licensed, board-certified physician, with preference given to a physician who has specialized experience and training in occupational medicine; and
  • at least three workers employed in the employer’s facility who have completed a general industry outreach course approved by DLI, one of whom must be a union representative if the employer is party to a collective bargaining agreement.

If it is impractical for a certified professional ergonomist or a licensed, board-certified physician to be a member of the committee, the meatpacking employer must have its ergonomics program reviewed by a certified professional ergonomist and a licensed, board-certified physician prior to implementation of the program and annually thereafter.

New Tasks

When a worker is assigned a new task, meaning the worker has no previous work experience doing that task, a meat-processing employer must train that worker about:

  • how to safely perform the task;
  • the ergonomic and other hazards associated with the task; and
  • the early signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal injuries and the procedures for reporting them.

The employer must give a worker an opportunity within 30 days of receiving the new-task training to receive refresher training about the topics covered in the new-task training. The employer must provide this training in a language and with vocabulary the employee can understand.

Annual Training

Meat-processing employers must provide each worker at least eight hours of safety training each year. The annual training must address health and safety topics relevant to the establishment and the worker’s job assignment, such as cuts, lacerations, amputations, machine guarding, biological hazards, lockout/tagout, hazard communication, ergonomic hazards and personal protective equipment. At least two of the eight hours of annual training must be about topics related to the facility’s ergonomic injury prevention program, including the assessment of surveillance data, the ergonomic hazard prevention and control plan, and the early signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders and the procedures for reporting them. The employer must provide this training in a language and with vocabulary the employee can understand.

Medical Services and Qualifications

Meat-processing employers must ensure:

  • all first-aid providers, medical assistants, nurses and physicians engaged by the employer are licensed and perform their duties within the scope of their licensed practice;
  • medical management of musculoskeletal disorders is under direct supervision of a licensed physician specializing in occupational medicine who will advise about best practices for management and prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders; and
  • medical management of musculoskeletal injuries follows the most current version of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine practice guidelines.

Meat-processing employers must not institute or maintain any program, policy or practice that discourages employees from reporting injuries, hazards or safety standards violations.

Pandemic Protections

The act requires enhanced health, safety and sanitation measures during a peacetime public health emergency that involves airborne transmission. These measures involve, but are not limited to, the following:

  • physical distancing and barriers;
  • face masks and shields at no cost to the employee;
  • hand sanitation;
  • disinfecting the workplace;
  • ventilation systems; and
  • personal protective equipment at no cost to the employee.

Meat-processing employers must provide training about the proper use of personal protective equipment, safety procedures and sanitation.

Meat-processing employers must record all injuries and illnesses in the facility and make these records available upon request to the health and safety committee, DLI and union representatives.

Break Time

Meat-processing employers must provide adequate break time for workers to use the bathroom, wash their hands, and don and doff protective equipment.

Refusal to Work Under Dangerous Conditions

A meat-processing worker has the right to refuse to work under dangerous conditions. Any worker who refuses to work under dangerous conditions shall continue to receive pay and shall not be subject to discrimination.

Notifications

Meat-processing employers must provide written information and notifications about employee rights under the act to workers in their language of fluency at least annually. If a worker is unable to understand written information and notifications, the employer must verbally provide such information and notices in the worker’s language of fluency.

DLI has prepared a sample employee notice that employers can use in English and is translating it to other languages. The notice is available on the Workplace notices and posters page.

Retaliation Prohibited

No meat-processing employer or other person may discharge or discriminate against a worker because the worker has raised a concern about a meatpacking operation’s health and safety practices to the employer or otherwise exercised any right authorized under Minnesota’s Occupational Safety and Health Act.

No meat-processing employer or other person may attempt to require any worker to sign a contract or other agreement that would limit or prevent the worker from disclosing information about workplace health and safety practices or hazards, or to otherwise abide by a workplace policy that would limit or prevent such disclosures. Any such agreements or policies are void and unenforceable. An employer’s attempt to impose such a contract, agreement or policy is itself a violation of the act.

Reporting or threatening to report a meat-processing worker’s suspected citizenship or immigration status, or the suspected citizenship or immigration status of a family member – including a spouse, parent, sibling, child, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew, cousin, grandparent or grandchild related by blood, adoption, marriage or domestic partnership – of the worker, to a federal, state or local agency because the worker exercises a right under the act is itself a violation of the act.

Enforcement

DLI Authority

DLI, either on its own initiative or in response to a complaint, may inspect a meatpacking operation and subpoena records and witnesses to investigate compliance with the act.

DLI may issue a compliance order requiring an employer to comply with certain provisions of the act.

DLI also has authority to issue a stop-work or business-closure order when there is a condition or practice that could result in death or serious physical harm.

Attorney General Authority

The attorney general may enforce the act under Minnesota Statutes, section 8.31.

Private Civil Action

If a meat-processing employer does not comply with the act, an aggrieved worker, union representative or other person may file a lawsuit within three years of an alleged violation.

Whistleblower Enforcement

In certain circumstances, a private civil action to enforce the act may be brought on behalf of DLI by any individual, including an authorized employee representative.

First, written notice must be given to DLI’s worker rights coordinator of the specific provisions of the act that were allegedly violated. Then, the individual or representative organization may commence a civil action if no enforcement action is taken by DLI within 30 days.

The right to bring a whistleblower lawsuit shall not be impaired by a private contract.

Relief

In a civil action or administrative proceeding brought to enforce the act, the act requires a court or DLI to order relief consistent with the following.

  • For any violation of sections of the act:
    • (1) an injunction to order compliance and restrain continued violations;
    • (2) payment to a prevailing worker by a meat-processing employer of reasonable costs, disbursements and attorney fees; and
    • (3) a civil penalty payable to the state of not less than $100 per day per worker affected by the meat-processing employer’s noncompliance with the act. In a civil whistleblower action brought on behalf of DLI, 70% of the civil penalty amount is payable to DLI, while 30% is payable to the person who brought the lawsuit.
  • Any worker who brings a complaint under the act and suffers retaliation is entitled to treble damages in addition to lost pay and recovery of attorney fees and costs.
  • Any company that is found to have retaliated against a meat-processing worker must pay a fine of up to $10,000 to DLI, in addition to other penalties available under the law.

Additional resources

To review the language of the act, see Minnesota Statutes, sections 179.87 to 179.877.

For questions about the act, contact DLI’s Labor Standards Division at:  Labor Standards Division, Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, 443 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN  55155; 651-284-5075; or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.

Skilled and Trained Contractor Workforce Requirements

Source: Skilled and trained contractor workforce requirements | Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (mn.gov)

Effective for contracts entered into, extended or renewed on or after Jan. 1, 2024, Minnesota law will require an owner or operator of a petroleum refinery to require contractors and subcontractors of any tier to use a skilled and trained workforce for the performance of construction, alteration, demolition, installation, repair, maintenance or hazardous material handling work at the site of the petroleum refinery. Existing contracts entered into before Jan. 1, 2024, must be renegotiated to comply by Jan. 1, 2025.

A skilled and trained workforce means each employee of the contractor or subcontractor of any tier performing work at the site of the petroleum refinery in an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades meets one of the following criteria:

  • is currently registered as an apprentice in a registered apprenticeship program in the applicable trade;
  • graduated from a registered apprenticeship program in the applicable trade;
  • completed all of the related instruction and on-the-job learning requirements needed to graduate from the registered apprenticeship program their employer participates in; or
  • has at least five years of experience working in the applicable trade and is participating in journeyworker upgrade training or has completed training identified as necessary by the registered apprenticeship program to become a qualified journeyworker in the applicable trade.

The contractor or subcontractor’s workforce must meet the skilled and trained workforce requirements according to the following schedule:

  • 30% by Jan. 1, 2024;
  • 45% by Jan. 1, 2025; and
  • 60% by Jan. 1, 2026.

The law provides certain exceptions to the skilled and trained workforce requirements. The requirements do not apply:

  • to the employees of the owner or operator of a petroleum refinery;
  • when an owner or operator contracts with contractors or subcontractors hired to install original equipment manufacturer (OEM) equipment and to perform OEM work to comply with equipment warranty requirements;
  • if under a collective bargaining agreement the labor organization is unable to refer sufficient workers for the contractor to comply with the applicable percentage within 48 hours of the contractor’s request, provided the contractor complies once the labor organization is able to refer sufficient workers;
  • if an emergency makes compliance impracticable for the contractor because the emergency requires immediate action to prevent harm to public health or safety or to the environment, though the requirements apply once the emergency ends or it becomes practicable for the contractor to obtain a skilled and trained workforce, whichever occurs sooner; and
  • if the owner or operator has entered into a project labor agreement with a council of building trades labor organizations requiring participation in registered apprenticeship programs, or all contractors and subcontractors of any tier have entered into collective bargaining agreements with labor organizations requiring participation in registered apprenticeship programs, and all contracted work at the petroleum refinery requiring compliance with this law is also subject to the project labor agreement or collective bargaining agreements requiring participation in registered apprenticeship programs.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s (DLI) Division of Labor Standards shall receive complaints of violations and must fine an owner or operator, contractor or subcontractor of any tier not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000 for each violation. Each shift on which a violation occurs is considered a separate violation. Owners or operators shall be found in violation and subject to fines and other penalties for failing to require a skilled and trained workforce in its contracts and subcontracts or failing to enforce the requirement of use of a skilled and trained workforce. Contractors or subcontractors shall be found in violation and subject to fines and other penalties for failure to use a skilled and trained workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the petroleum refinery owner or operator’s employees need to meet the skilled and trained workforce requirements?

No. The requirements do not apply to the employees of the owner or operator of a petroleum refinery.

How do I register an apprenticeship program in Minnesota? 

Contact DLI’s Division of Apprenticeship at dli.apprenticeship@state.mn.us, 651-284-5090 or 1-800-342-5354. Visit ApprenticeshipMN.com. An Apprenticeship Minnesota representative will meet with you to assist in development.

If I have an apprenticeship program registered in another state, do I also need to register an apprenticeship program in Minnesota?

No. An apprenticeship program can be registered with DLI, the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeship, or a recognized state apprenticeship agency.

What supervision requirements exist for apprentices on the worksite?

Employers must comply with the journeyworker to apprentice ratio requirements in the standards of apprenticeship for which the apprentice has an apprenticeship agreement.

If I registered apprentices in another state, do they need to meet ratio requirements for the applicable trade in Minnesota, or would the requirements in their apprenticeship agreement apply while working in Minnesota?

Employers must comply with the journeyworker to apprentice ratio requirements in the standards of apprenticeship for which the apprentice has an apprenticeship agreement.

What is an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades?

An apprenticeable occupation is any trade, form of employment, or apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades approved by the commissioner of DLI or the United States secretary of labor. Specifically, an apprenticeable occupation is one that meets the criteria in Code of Federal Regulations, title 29, part 29, section 29.4 and must:

  1. involve skills that are customarily learned in a practical way through a structured, systematic program of on-the-job supervised learning;
  2. be clearly identified and commonly recognized throughout an industry;
  3. involve the progressive attainment of manual, mechanical or technical skills and knowledge which, in accordance with the industry standard for the occupation, would require the completion of at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning to attain; and
  4. require related instruction to supplement the on-the-job learning.

View a list of federally approved apprenticeship occupations. Questions about whether an occupation has been approved by DLI may be asked of the apprenticeship director.

What process will the apprenticeship director follow to determine whether an occupation is an apprenticeable occupation in the building and construction trades if it is unclear from the federal list?

The apprenticeship director will consider whether the occupation involves construction, alteration, demolition, installation, repair, maintenance or hazardous material handling work at the site of the petroleum refinery, whether the occupation is included within a broader registered apprenticeship program standard in the building and construction trades, and will consult with USDOL and other states as appropriate.

How will compliance be tracked and enforced?

DLI’s Division of Labor Standards will receive complaints of violations of the law. Owners, operators, contractors, and subcontractors should maintain sufficient records to demonstrate compliance with the requirements under the law. Records could include copies of contracts, documentation demonstrating whether applicable employees of contractors or subcontractors meet one of the four skilled and trained workforce criteria in law (download a sample recordkeeping template), payroll records and documentation to substantiate an exemption from the law’s requirements such as a project labor agreement, collective bargaining agreement, a request for referral of workers from a labor organization and the organization’s response or documentation of an emergency that makes compliance impracticable.

How can complaints be submitted?

Complaints can be submitted to DLI’s Division of Labor Standards at 651-284-5075 or dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us.

Do the percentage requirements apply to the total contractor workforce?

No. Each contractor and subcontractor of any tier must comply with the percentage requirements for the applicable trade or occupation within the contractor’s workforce when performing construction, alteration, demolition, installation, repair, maintenance or hazardous material handling work at the site of the petroleum refinery.

What are the “other penalties” an owner, operator, contractor or subcontractors may be subject to?

This refers to the penalties provided under section 177.27, subdivision 7.

The penalties range from a minimum of $5,000 to not more than $10,000 for each violation. How will the commissioner determine the penalty amount?

As directed by law, the commissioner will consider the appropriateness of the fine to the size of the violator’s business and the gravity of the violation.

Can owners, operators, contractors or subcontractors appeal a finding of violation and/or a penalty?

Yes, an employer who receives a compliance order pursuant to section 177.27 may contest the order in writing within 15 days.

What affirmative action requirements apply?

Employers of apprentices must meet the affirmative action requirements as outlined in their standards of apprenticeship.

What dispute resolution process should be followed?

Employers of apprentices should follow the complaint procedure process outlined in their standards of apprenticeship.


News Release: Retail Chain Agrees to Pay Back-Wages, Damages, and Penalties After Investigation Finds Company Violated Protections for Nursing Employees

 

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry recently entered into a consent order with Menard, Inc. (Menards), requiring the retail chain to comply with Minnesota law that directs employers to provide lactating workers with reasonable paid break time to express milk. The agreement also requires Menards to pay back-wages and compensatory damages to an employee for deducting wages from her pay for taking breaks to express milk and retaliating against her for asserting her workplace rights.

 

A Department of Labor and Industry Investigation Found Menards Deducted Wages for Time Spent Expressing Milk and Retaliated Against a Worker Who Filed a Complaint; Company Agrees to Statewide Audit of Stores

 

January 9, 2024

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) recently entered into a consent order with Menard, Inc. (Menards), requiring the retail chain to comply with Minnesota law that directs employers to provide lactating workers with reasonable paid break time to express milk. The agreement also requires Menards to pay back-wages and compensatory damages to an employee for deducting wages from her pay for taking breaks to express milk and retaliating against her for asserting her workplace rights.

“Workers should not have to choose between expressing milk for their child and getting paid or keeping their job,” said DLI Commissioner Nicole Blissenbach. “DLI supports new parents who choose to return to the workforce and understands the importance and impact of enforcing the Minnesota law protecting workers’ rights to express milk at work without having their compensation reduced.”

A DLI investigation of Menards in Fridley, Minnesota, found the company violated state labor laws during DLI’s audit period of Dec. 1, 2022, through May 21, 2023.

On Dec. 5, 2023, Menards and DLI reached an agreement in which Menards agreed to comply with the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) at all its Minnesota facilities. The company must also pay $15,000 in administrative penalties, with $7,500 of the penalties stayed pending compliance with the agreement.

In addition to paying the penalties, Menards agreed to various specific conditions to ensure compliance with WESA, including:

  • paying back-wages to compensate the worker for illegally deducting time from the worker’s pay on 103 separate occasions;
  • paying damages to compensate the worker for three days of lost wages when she was suspended in retaliation for asserting her workplace rights;
  • performing a statewide audit of all of its stores to confirm no other workers had their wages deducted for expressing milk and, if they did, compensating all workers whose wages were reduced;
  • reporting the outcome of the audit to DLI;
  • updating its policy handbook to reflect all current rights under WESA, including rights to express milk, pregnancy accommodations and parental leave; and
  • posting a copy of DLI’s nursing employees’ poster at each store in Minnesota, as well as a copy of the consent order.

Annual WESA Report Released

DLI also found many other companies violated WESA, according to the state agency’s annual report.

WESA is a comprehensive worker protection law designed to protect and promote opportunities for women in the workplace. An annual report provides DLI investigative data and outcomes related to its enforcement of WESA for the most recent year and since the law’s adoption in spring 2014.

WESA violations detailed in the most recent report include:

  • a child care center employer that didn’t allow a worker break times to express milk due to her child’s age;
  • a nursing home employer that took a worker off a work schedule after the worker requested a pregnancy accommodation; and
  • an insurance company employer that denied a worker pregnancy leave because she had only been employed there for seven months at the time she requested leave.

WESA inquiries to DLI have been increasing. The number of intakes DLI received related to parenting leave and nursing employees’ rights nearly doubled in the past year, increasing from 180 intakes to 327 intakes.

WESA was expanded this year to include additional workplace protections for new and expectant parents, including:

  • requiring all nursing and lactating workers receive break times to express milk regardless of their child’s age without losing compensation;
  • requiring workplace lactation spaces be clean, private and secure;
  • ensuring all nursing and lactating workers have a right to break times to express milk regardless of whether providing the breaks unduly disrupts the operations of the employer;
  • ensuring workers can choose when to express milk based on their needs, whether that means expressing milk during an existing paid break, during an existing unpaid break, such as a meal break, or during some other time; and
  • requiring employers notify all workers of the rights of pregnant and lactating workers when hired, when a worker makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave, and in a worker handbook if one is provided.

DLI continues to educate employers and workers about their workplace responsibilities and rights under WESA. Find a complete list of recent changes to WESA and additional information at dli.mn.gov/newparents.

Contact the Labor Standards Division at dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us, 651-284-5075 or 800-342-5354.


Employee or Independent Contractor?

The U.S. Department of Labor published a rule, effective March 11, 2024, to address how to analyze whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.

Final Rule: Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, RIN 1235-AA43

Source: Final Rule: Employee or Independent Contractor Classification Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, RIN 1235-AA43 | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)

On January 10, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor published a final rule, effective March 11, 2024, revising the Department’s guidance on how to analyze who is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This final rule rescinds the Independent Contractor Status Under the Fair Labor Standards Act rule (2021 IC Rule), that was published on January 7, 2021 and replaces it with an analysis for determining employee or independent contractor status that is more consistent with the FLSA as interpreted by longstanding judicial precedent.

The misclassification of employees as independent contractors may deny workers minimum wage, overtime pay, and other protections. This final rule will reduce the risk that employees are misclassified as independent contractors while providing a consistent approach for businesses that engage with individuals who are in business for themselves.

Additional Information


Wage and Hour Bulletin Archive

Find past editions of The Wage and Hour Bulletin at dli.mn.gov/business/employment-practices/minnesota-wage-and-hour-bulletin.