Many Minnesota business owners are paying attention to the state Legislature this week as lawmakers decide on several significant employment law reforms. At stake are increases in minimum wage, overtime pay and parental leave.
Earlier today, the House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation that calls for minimum wage to increase to $9.50 per hour by 2015, and to rise with inflation thereafter. The legislation also increases the amount of time that workers can take a leave for the birth or adoption of a child from six weeks to 12, and lowers the threshold at which employers have to pay overtime wages from 48 hours to 40.
While the minimum wage hike would affect thousands of families, according to the bill's author, most Minnesotans do already currently earn at least the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 while the Minnesota state wage is $6.15.
Additionally, under federal law, overtime of time-and-one-half the regular rate of pay must be paid after a 40 hour weekly threshold, as compared to Minnesota's 48 hour limit. And, under federal law, many new parents qualify for an unpaid job-protected leave of up to 12 weeks in the event of a birth or adoption under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
These potential reforms should be a reminder to Minnesota business owners and employees that employment is governed by a complex intersection of state and federal laws. Whether one's wages and overtime are governed by state or federal law, and whether a parental leave falls under the federal FLMA or the Minnesota Parental Leave Act, depends on a number of circumstances.
Employers are wise to seek legal counsel to ensure that their wage, overtime and leave policies and practices meet current and evolving legal standards. Should a dispute arise, employees would also be wise to seek legal guidance in order to make sure that they understand their rights.
The House expects to vote on the legislation discussed above by Friday.
Source: CBS Minnesota, "Minimum Wage Hike Heads to Minnesota House Floor," April 29, 2013
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