What is the status of employment laws that I should know about now that the MN legislative session is over?
Employers worried about the MN House bill to raise the state minimum wage from $6.15 (for larger employers) to $9.50 received a reprieve from any action as the legislature ran out of time to negotiate a compromise minimum wage increase. Why? Because the Senate passed its bill raising the minimum wage to $7.75, meaning the Senate and House needed to come to a compromise solution that could be accepted by both bodies. Further differentiating the two bodies was the House’s bill which would adjust the minimum wage annually in line with inflation, meaning $9.50/hour would continue to increase over time with inflation. In the end, although both sides agreed in an increase they ran out of time to negotiate something mutually passable.
Employers worried about the “Ban the Box” legislation, however, were not as fortunate. Beginning January 1, 2014, most employers in Minnesota will be prohibited from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on an application and prior to selecting the applicant for an interview. If the company does not conduct interviews, it will be precluded from asking about criminal history prior to making an offer of employment. So, while the new law does not prohibit the inquiry into future employees’ criminal histories, it does delay the inquiry and alter what is likely to be most employers’ hiring procedures. The law additionally provides for some immunity from liability stemming from a company’s decision to hire an employee with a criminal history. While this offers some assurance to companies the protections are not absolute and employers should still consider the nature of any criminal history versus the nature and requirements for the offered position. Businesses that are required under other laws to perform criminal background checks on applicants, however, are exempted from the prohibitions under this new law.
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