This post will guide you through employee leave laws for businesses and workers located in the state of Minnesota.
Follow this guide to understand employers’ obligations for vacation time, paid time off (PTO), sick leave, parental leave, bereavement and more, along with state holidays observed in Minnesota.
This page is intended for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please see official government sources or consult a legal professional for actual legal advice.
No federal or state law requires Minnesota companies to provide paid or unpaid vacation time.
It’s up to each employer to decide whether or not to offer this benefit to employees. If vacation time is provided, employers should follow any stipulations written into employees’ contracts or company policy.
Use It or Lose It vacation policies are not mentioned in Minnesota leave laws, and are thus legal for companies to enforce. It’s advisable to make this known to employees in their employment contract and/or written company policy documents.
Use It or Lose It leave policies mean that any leave not used at the end of the year is forfeited, and not carried over to the following year. Learn more about Use It or Lose It policies here.
Minnesota courts consider paid time off and vacation time as a form of wages, and thus any unused earned PTO must be paid out upon separation of employment (e.g. when an employee quits, retires, is laid off or is fired).
However, companies can institute a policy or contract where accrued PTO is not paid out in certain circumstances, such as if an employee doesn’t give the required notice before leaving. It’s important that this is clearly stated in a contract or written policy, and that employees give written acknowledgement that they are aware of the policy.
In 2023, the cities of Bloomington, Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth all require employers to provide paid sick leave. Bloomington, Minneapolis and Saint Paul provide one hour for every 30 hours worked, while Duluth gives one hour for every 50 hours worked.
As of the 1st of January 2024, a state-wide law goes into effect entitling employees in Minnesota to one hour of sick leave (referred to as “sick and safe time”) for every 30 hours worked.
This can be capped at a maximum of 48 hours per year, and employees must be allowed to carry over up to 80 hours of unused sick and safe time per year, unless they receive 48 hours frontloaded at the start of each year.
Per the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, sick and safe time can be used for:
Besides any state laws or provisions written into employment contracts, employers in Minnesota must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which entitles eligible employees the right to take 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for serious health conditions, or to care for spouses, children or parents with a serious health condition.
The following official state holidays are observed in Minnesota:
|January 1||New Year’s Day|
|3rd Monday in January||Martin Luther King, Jr Day|
|3rd Monday in February||Presidents’ Day|
|Last Monday in May||Memorial Day|
|July 4||Independence Day|
|1st Monday in September||Labor Day|
|November 11||Veterans Day|
|4th Thursday in November||Thanksgiving|
|Day after Thanksgiving||Thanksgiving Friday|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
Employers do not have to provide a paid or unpaid day off for state holidays. Additionally, employees can be required to work on a holiday, without being automatically entitled to extra benefits like higher pay or a compensatory day off.
The Minnesota Pregnancy and Parental Leave Act entitles new parents to 12 weeks of unpaid leave upon the birth or adoption of their child, to be taken within 12 months of birth or adoption.
The nation-wide FMLA also entitles eligible employees to the same benefit of 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for new births, adoptions or fosters. However, these two entitlements cannot be stacked (an employee can’t take 12 weeks under Minnesota law and 12 weeks under the FMLA).
Paternity leave is covered by the same laws as maternity leave, entitling new fathers to the same benefits under both state law and the FMLA.
There is no legal requirement to provide bereavement leave in Minnesota. However, employees are entitled to take up to 10 days off if they have a family member who has been killed or injured in active military service.
Paid leave is not required for employees serving jury duty, however they must be allowed to serve their jury duty without being discharged, penalized, coerced or threatened.
Employees must be allowed to take paid time off in order to vote in local, state and federal elections.
Employers with at least two employees must allow up to 16 hours of unpaid leave per year for attending to school-related activities for their children.
Employers with at least 20 employees must provide up to 40 hours of paid leave for employees donating bone marrow.
National Guard members can take up to four years’ unpaid leave to serve active duty, if a state declares an emergency.
Additionally, family members of service members are allowed one day of unpaid leave to attend a send-off or homecoming ceremony, and may take up to 10 days of unpaid leave if a direct family member has been killed or injured in active duty.
Federal Law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)) applies in Minnesota, which states that military service members receive up to five years of unpaid leave for military service, and upon returning, must be reinstated to the same position (or an equivalent position) as they had before their leave.
Anything not covered in Minnesota state leave laws is up to the discretion of the employer, such as whether or not to provide paid sick leave or PTO, or whether PTO rolls over from year to year.
However, if any benefits are laid out in an employee’s contract or company policy, employers must comply with what has been agreed in that document.
For example, if an employee’s contract states that they are to receive 12 days of PTO each year, the employer is legally required to provide this, even though paid time off is not required by state law.