Minnesota Labor Laws: A Complete Guide to Wages, Breaks, Overtime, and More (2024)

In this article, we’ll dive deep into Minnesota’s labor laws, with details on all the important aspects of the state’s regulations on your employees.
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How well do you understand the labor laws in your state? Labor laws cover much more than minimum wage and benefits requirements. These laws cover all aspects surrounding the nitty gritty of employee rights, and labor regulations also play a pivotal role in shaping every state’s employment landscape.

As part of our 50-state series focusing on labor laws, we’ve set our sights on Minnesota to give you a comprehensive guide on the state’s labor laws for employers and employees.

Let’s dive in.

Meals and Breaks in Minnesota

Federal law does not offer any provisions for meals and breaks.

When employers provide these breaks, they typically last between five and 20 minutes. The breaks are also considered compensable work hours and should be considered even when the employee worked overtime.

However, Minnesota state law takes a different approach to breaks by requiring employers to provide employees with adequate restroom and mealtime breaks.

Meal and Break Laws in MN

Meal Breaks

30 minutes

Lactation Breaks

Required for baby’s first year

According to the law, any break lasting less than 20 minutes should be considered hours worked.

That said, the employer reserves the right to set preferable times when employees can take breaks. For an employer to deduct pay, an employee must be completely relieved of duties for at least 20 minutes.

Leave and Paid Time Off (PTO) in Minnesota

Minnesota law does not require employers to provide paid or unpaid leave for their employees. However, some employers offer these packages as perks. If an employer chooses to provide these benefits, they may use the accrual or roll-over system.

In the accrual system, vacation days are calculated based on the payroll frequency. Employers can choose to put a reasonable limit on the number of vacation hours or days an employee can accumulate.

Conversely, the roll-over policy allows employees to carry over vacation days for use later during the year. However, employers may implement a use-it-or-lose-it policy that requires employees to use their vacation days by a specific date lest they forfeit.

In both circumstances, employees must consent to the policy in writing or by signing contracts.

Break or Leave Type in MN

MN Sick Days

Available for employees working at least 80 hours in a year for the same employer.

MN Vacation Time

Two and a half weeks of vacation every year.

MN Holiday Leave

No requirements.

MN Family and Medical Leave

Up to 20 weeks of paid family and medical leave (effective from 2026)

MN Bereavement Leave

No requirements.

MN Military Leave

Up to 10 days of unpaid leave for employees whose close family members were injured or killed in military service.

MN Firefighter Leave

No requirements.

MN Voting Leave

Employees have the right to be absent from work when they need to vote.

MN Jury Duty Leave

Employers are required to excuse their employees from work to serve on a jury.

MN Witness Leave

Reasonable time off work to attend criminal proceedings.

Are There Any Employer Obligations Regarding Paid or Unpaid Leave?

According to Minnesota law, employers are required to provide employees paid sick leaves for specific reasons, including when the employee is sick, needs to take care of a loved one, or to seek assistance if they or another family member have experienced domestic abuse.

Any employee in Minnesota who is not an independent contractor or has worked at least 80 hours in a year for the employer is entitled to paid sick leave. Employees can earn a one-hour sick leave for every 30 hours worked, and a maximum of 48 hours each year. However, in certain situations, the employer can agree to an extended period.

Overtime Regulations in Minnesota

According to the FFLSA (Federal Fair Labor Standards Act), some employers are required to pay their employees overtime for all extra hours worked over 40 hours a week in a seven-day week.

These employers include:

Minnesota law is quite lenient on employers since it only requires employers to pay overtime for hours worked over 48 hours a week in seven days.

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How Is the Overtime Rate Calculated?

According to federal and Minnesota law, overtime pay must be at least one and a half times the employee’s regular pay rate. The regular rate of pay is determined by dividing an employee’s total pay by their total work hours during the workweek.

Therefore, to determine the overtime rate, you can multiply the employee’s hourly rate by 1.5 for every hour of overtime worked.

Are There Any Exceptions to Overtime Pay?

Under Minnesota law, anyone who doesn’t qualify as an employee is exempted from getting overtime pay. Some of the most notable occupations not classified as employees according to the law include:

Wages and Benefits in Minnesota

Minnesota state laws dictate that employees should be paid for all hours worked. The employees should also be paid the current minimum wage rate, regardless of their form of employment or frequency of pay.

The current state minimum wage in Minnesota is $10.59 per hour, which is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Minimum hourly wages are further increased in overtime hours if an employee exceeds 48 hours of work in one week. When exceeding 48 hours of work in a week, employees in Minnesota should be compensated at one and a half times their regular pay.

Employers are also prohibited from counting employees’ tips towards their minimum wage.

Additionally, employers are required by law to pay their employees regularly, at least once every 31 days. Employees are also entitled to receive their wages upon request. For instance, if you fire an employee or they quit, you must provide their paycheck by the next payday.

That said, Minnesota law allows for certain exemptions to minimum wage requirements, particularly concerning disabled employees.

According to Minnesota law, employers can pay employees with disabilities a subminimum wage, provided they have a written permit from the state. The wage paid should be at least 50% of the regular pay.

The law also extends to minors – Minnesota employers can pay employees under 18 years of age a subminimum pay of $8.63 for their first 90 days of employment.

Minnesota child labor laws prohibit the employment of any minor under the age of 14, except for certain exceptions like acting, modeling, and newspaper carrying.

Mandatory Employee Benefits in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota is deeply committed to ensuring the well-being and safety of its workforce. As such, the state provides a comprehensive framework for employee benefits. This framework goes beyond mere perks and encapsulates the essential components employees need for a safe, prosperous professional life.

The framework is divided into two crucial components: employees’ rights and mandatory benefits.

Some of the most notable employee rights in Minnesota include:

In addition to following employee rights, employers in Minnesota also have a legal mandate to provide eligible employees with specific benefits and accommodations. The state-required benefits include:

Prevailing Wages in Minnesota

A prevailing wage is a basic hourly rate or benefits paid to similarly employed workers in a specific geography. The wages consist of two components: a basic hourly rate and fringe benefits. As such, all employees must be paid a combination of cash and fringe benefits equal to the average prevailing wage for all hours worked on a project.

Other regulations for prevailing wages in Minnesota include the following:

You can find more information on current prevailing wages in Minnesota in several places, including:

Hiring Practices in Minnesota

Hiring practices in Minnesota are similar to those in other states.

Although Minnesota doesn’t restrict the methods organizations choose to recruit employees, it has strict guidelines on how companies structure job advertisements and descriptions.

JOB ADVERTISEMENT

Employers are cautioned over making job advertisements that may indicate any form of discrimination. Similarly, the job description should be well-detailed, with clearly defined guidelines on the essential requirements and functions of the position.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

While you may be inclined to conduct a criminal background check on an applicant in Minnesota before offering them a position in your company, you can do so only at the latter stages of the hiring process, i.e., during the interview or after extending a conditional job offer.

The ‘ban the box’ law, as it is commonly referred to, was instituted by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). It was designed to provide convicted individuals with more opportunities to be evaluated based on their skills and experience.

NEGLIGENT HIRING

Did you know that you can be held liable if your employee causes injuries to third parties? Under Minnesota law, employers must exercise reasonable care when selecting and retaining employees. Therefore, you must hire and retain only safe and competent employees.

Failure to uphold your duties in exercising reasonable care when hiring employees may leave you liable for any damages caused by the employee. However, background checks you perform during your investigation should be well-documented and comply with the requirements of the FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act).

MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS

While you may be inclined to conduct medical examinations on potential applicants to ascertain their ability to perform a job, you cannot ask any medical or disability-related questions on the application form.

However, at the post-offer stage, you may conduct a medical check to establish that the applicant meets the physical and mental requirements for the job after making a job offer. The medical examination should be standardized and imposed on all employees on the same level and should only test for essential, job-related abilities.

If the medical examination reveals that an applicant has certain disabilities and, therefore, is not suitable for the job, the only acceptable reasons for not hiring the individual should be either:

DRUG TESTING

Although federal law does not prevent employers from performing pre-employment drug tests, Minnesota law takes it up a notch with additional conditions. For starters, employers in Minnesota may only request applicants undergo drug testing after extending a conditional job offer.

Additionally, the employer must have previously written a drug and alcohol testing policy for all employees in a similar position. The employee must also sign an acknowledgment and have a right to request additional testing on the initial sample if the test produces a positive result.

You can be held liable if your employee causes injuries to third parties in Minnesota.

Health and Safety Standards in Minnesota

Minnesota labor laws require all employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment free from known hazards that can cause injury, death, or illness. Employers are also required to comply with all applicable MNOSHA standards.

Employers are also required to:

Employers and employees in Minnesota can report unsafe working conditions through several avenues, including:

Employee Termination and Resignation in Minnesota

Minnesota labor laws require all employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment free from known hazards that can cause injury, death, or illness. Employers are also required to comply with all applicable MNOSHA standards.

Employers are also required to:

Employers and employees in Minnesota can report unsafe working conditions through several avenues, including:

Child Labor Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota labor laws prohibit the employment of any minor under the age of 14, except for certain exceptions like acting, modeling, and newspaper carrying. Additionally, children between 14 and 15 should not be allowed to work before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m., more than eight hours a day, and more than 40 hours a week.

Minors over 16 should not be allowed to work past 11 p.m. on school nights and before 5 a.m. on school days.

That said, several industry-specific regulations for employing minors in Minnesota include:

Employee Termination and Resignation in Minnesota

As an at-will state, Minnesota allows employees to quit any time for any reason. Similarly, an employer can terminate an employee for any reason as long as the reason is not discriminatory. Therefore, no party is entitled to any notice of separation.

In most cases, employers and employees give notice as a courtesy and to allow the other party to collect all benefits accrued during the working relationship.

Concerning employee termination, employers are legally required to give a truthful reason as to why the employee was terminated if the employee requests it in the form of a written document within 15 days of termination. The employer then has ten days to respond to the former employee’s request.

Employers must also pay terminated employees’ paychecks within 24 hours of the employee’s request. However, if the employee quits, their wages are due on the next pay period, provided it exceeds five days after quitting and not exceeding 20 days of separation.

If the employee was entrusted with money or property during their employment, the employer gets ten calendar days after the employee quits to conduct an audit.

Minnesota law does not offer provisions for severance pay.

If an employer decides to provide severance pay, the pay must be excluded from retirement deductions and benefits. It must also be paid in a mutually agreeable manner and should not exceed five years from the day of separation.

Unemployment Benefits in Minnesota

The state of Minnesota provides unemployment insurance benefits to unemployed workers who meet eligibility requirements. To be eligible for the benefits, you must be a resident of Minnesota and meet the following conditions:

To apply for the benefits, you must apply on the first day you are either unemployed or have your work hours substantially reduced. You can apply with Minnesota Unemployment Insurance by calling this number: 651-296-3644. Anyone outside the Twin City area should use this number: 1-877-898-9090. The state also provides a TTY number for the hearing impaired: 1-866-814-1252.

What About Employers?

Employers also have a part to play in the unemployment benefits process, thus the need to understand their responsibilities and obligations. You can find this information on:

Penalties for Noncompliance in Minnesota

Minnesota has recently enacted a wage loss law aimed at protecting employees’ rights to fair wages. Under Minnesota law, wage theft can be anything from paying employees anything less than the minimum wage to more serious crimes like pocketing withheld taxes and failing to give an employee their paycheck.

Failure to comply with wage loss laws can leave an employer subject to penalties and even jail time. The penalty typically depends on the amount of funds withheld and can go as far as a 20-year jail term and a $100,000 fine.

Additionally, employers are required to report all employees. Failure to comply might result in a civil penalty of $500 for each unreported employee, provided the noncompliance resulted from a conspiracy between an employer and the employees.

Other Essential Information About Labor Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota labor laws don’t just protect an employee’s right to fair pay; they also guarantee their safety in the workplace and protect them from harassment, wage loss, and other factors.

Here are a few other essential details:

Resources and Further Reading on Minnesota Labor Laws

To ensure compliance and fair treatment in the workplace, employers and employees must understand Minnesota labor laws. To that effect, here are a few relevant resources and links to official state government resources, legal aid organizations, and other helpful materials on Minnesota labor laws.

The Bottom Line on Minnesota Labor Laws

Minnesota Labor Laws are designed to protect employers’ and employees’ rights to a safe and healthy work environment. They encapsulate everything from minimum wage requirements to wage loss and unemployment insurance.

Noncompliance with these labor laws may lead to unsafe working conditions, lost wages, fines, and even jail terms. That’s why it’s essential to keep yourself updated on all current and future labor laws. In doing so, you improve compliance and workplace conditions.

You should also consult the state’s literature resources on labor laws and seek legal advice whenever you have any questions regarding the labor laws in Minnesota.

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