Requirements for Employee Breaks and Leave

For the most part, employers can set their own policies regarding breaks during the day and leave time. The exception to this would be if there is a collective-bargaining agreement.


Break Time

For an employee who works eight or more consecutive hours a break must be provided with enough time eat a meal. The employer does not have to pay the employee for their meal break unless the employee continues to perform his or her duties during the break time. The break should be 20 minutes or longer and is 30 minutes under federal law. In addition, an employee must be given time within each four consecutive hours of work to use the nearest restroom.

Vacation and Sick Time

Minnesota does not require employers to provide for any vacation, holiday, or sick time. However, most employers provide these types of benefits as a way to attract competent and desirable employees. Because it is not required by law, employers should provide written policies regarding how vacation, holiday, and sick leave is used by the employees. These policies should state whether sick or vacation time can be carried over from year to year, if employees will be paid for any unused accrued time, etc.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law that entitles employees that work for certain employer’s unpaid leave for qualified medical and family reasons. Employers that are required to provide FMLA benefits are employers engaged in interstate commerce or in an industry affecting interstate commerce, of 50 or more employees in 20 or more weeks in the current or prior calendar year. FMLA allows employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period to attend to a serious health condition of the employee, parent, spouse or child, or for pregnancy or care of a newborn child, or for adoption or foster care of a child. The FMLA covers both public and private sector employees although some categories of employees are excluded.

Minnesota Parenting Leave

In Minnesota an employer must grant unpaid leave to certain employees who birth or adopt a child. Minnesota’s law applies to companies/employers with more than 21 employees. For an employee to qualify for Minnesota’s parenting leave they must have been with the employer for at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the request, but the employee does not have to be full-time. Only at least a half time employment is necessary. An employer must continue to make group insurance or health coverage available to the employee although the employer is not required to pay the cost of the insurance or healthcare coverage during the leave of absence.

Minnesota Sick Child and School Leave

If an employer has more than 20 employees, the employer must allow the employee to use sick leave benefits that they acquire for absences because of the illness or injury of their children. Absence due to the illness or injury of a child must be for a reasonable period of time, and the child must be under the age of 18 or under the age of 20 if in secondary school. Similarly to Minnesota’s parenting leave requirements, the employee must have been with the employer for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the request on at least a half-time basis.

Additionally, employers with at least one employee must allow up to 16 hours a year to allow any parents to attend a child’s school related activities or school conferences or day care or kindergarten activities. Employers do not have to pay for this leave.

Military Leave

If an employee is a member of the Military Reserve or National Guard Civil Air Patrol been an employer must allow the employee unpaid time off for military duty and training.

Jury Duty

Under Minnesota law an employee is allowed to respond to a summons for jury service without the fear that their employer will deprive the employee of employment or threatened the employee that they may lose their job. Although an employer does not have to pay the employee for missing work due to jury service.

Voting and Election Judge

An employer must allow employees unpaid time to vote in the state primary or general election, an election to fill a vacancy in the office of the United States senator or United States representative, or a presidential primary election. The employer is not allowed to deduct your wages because of an absence due to voting. In addition, an employer must give paid time off to an employee wants to serve as an election judge. The employee is responsible for giving 20 days written notice to the employer.

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