Workforce and Business Development Omnibus Bill Passes Minnesota House, Moves to Senate

With less than two weeks left in this year’s legislative session, there is finally some movement on some major bills in Minnesota, and many of them could impact employers.  It appears that despite being passed on party lines in the House, there is some traction for the Omnibus bill to pass (after some editing) in the Senate.  Here are some highlights:

  • First, an item which we have discussed before, is the state-paid family leave program. The bill is proposing to allocate $30 million to set up the program, and will function in a way similar to unemployment insurance, in that employers will be required to pay into the program to keep it running.  Under the program, employees could take up to 12 weeks of paid leave for their own or a family member’s medical issue.  The bill has garnered favor from small businesses due to their ability to provide for paid medical leave when they once could not for their employees by pooling resources with other businesses.
  • Next, another bill was amended that would provide for unemployment insurance benefits for school district hourly workers who would typically not receive income when school was not in session.
  • The bill would also appropriate $200 million from the state’s surplus for workforce and community development grants, and establish an ombudsperson for agricultural and food processing workers to look into worker safety complaints.
  • One portion of the bill we are paying special attention to is aimed at limiting non-compete provisions for employers. It would make unenforceable all non-compete agreements used by employers who either do not pay the employees subject to those agreements a salary equal to the median household income for a four-person family, or do not pay employees fifty percent of their salary during the period they are subject to the non-compete.  While non-compete agreements are generally disfavored in court, reasonably crafted non-competes are generally enforceable in Minnesota, and this would create an entirely new level of restriction on their use.
  • Finally, included in the bill is language increasing transparency around unfair labor practice proceedings (if, and when they move back to the PERB). It would make public the status of unfair labor practice charges, the names of charging parties, the laws alleged to have been violated, and the full and complete record of the hearing before the hearing officer, among other items.

These are major developments across many sectors in the state, and most will have significant impacts on employers.  As the legislative session draws to a close, we will keep a sharp eye on any changes to the bills, as well as the introduction of any other bills that could affect employers.  If you, or your organization, need assistance in interpreting, or applying any laws that impact your business, contact Wiley Reber Law, for legal advice that works.