Yesterday, the Minnesota legislature introduced a bill that would provide up to 100 hours of “emergency paid sick leave” for “health care providers” and “emergency responders.”
The proposed bill aligns with the federal Families First Coronavirus Act (FFRCA) to effectively prevent covered employers from exempting “health care providers” and “emergency responders” from receiving emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL).
The FFCRA’s Voluntary Exemption for “Health Care Providers” and “Emergency Responders”
As you may remember, the FFCRA applies to private employers that employ fewer than 500 employees. Public employers are covered if they employ one or more employees.
Under the FFCRA, though, employers could voluntarily decide to exempt “health care providers” and “emergency responders.” As we previously reported in Labor Department Revises Two Invalidated FFCRA Rules But Retains Two Others, the definition of “health care provider” was initially very broad. However, new regulations issued in September 2020 limited the definition to those who are “capable of providing health care services, meaning that the person is employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services, or other services that are integrated with and necessary for the provision of patient care, and, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.”
Minnesota’s Proposed Bill Closes the Voluntary Exemption
Under the proposed bill, employers could still choose to exempt “health care providers” and “emergency responders” from receiving paid leave under the federal FFCRA. However, if they decided to claim the exemption, they would then be covered by the proposed bill. This is because the definition of “employer” is tied to those employers that have “elected to exclude such employees from [EPSL] under the [FFCRA].”
This would then require the employer to provide “up to 100 hours” of state-mandated “emergency paid sick leave” under the proposed bill. The amount would be paid at the employee’s “regular rate of pay” and could be used intermittently.
What About Employers Not Covered by the FFCRA?
Importantly, employers that are not covered by the FFCRA do not appear to be impacted by the proposed bill (at least in its current form). This is because, again, the definition of “employer” is tied to those employers that have “elected to exclude such employees from [E-PSL] under the [FFCRA].”
As a result, employers with 500 or more employees would not be impacted by the current bill. Likewise, even if the employer is covered by the FFCRA, employers that have not chosen to exempt “health care workers” or “emergency responders” from receiving EPSL would also not be impacted by the proposed bill.
While the bill is still far from becoming law, employers who have elected to exempt “health care workers” or “emergency responders” from receiving EPSL under the FFCRA should keep a special eye on this bill as it moves through the legislature.
We will continue to monitor these developments.