I've been hearing a lot lately about mandatory paid time off (PTO) for employees. Do I legally need to provide employees with PTO?

Election years. In additional to enhanced media coverage, and exciting commercials, they also increase discussions regarding seemingly partisan related issues. Not coincidently we've seen a big push at the state level and national level focusing on gender rights in the workplace.

Minnesota is not alone and some states are further along this path, but the state seems to be ground zero for new laws aimed at increasing gender equality in the workplace. While the Women's Economic Security Act (WESA) is big news and deserves significant employer attention (i.e. call with questions), one of the major proposed components for the Act didn't pass--mandatory paid time off. Part of WESA until the end, the proposal would have required all employers to provide covered employees with 1 hour of paid time off for sick or safety leave for every 30 hours of work, with a cap of 72 hours/year for companies with more than 21 employees. That would have been a big deal, but it didn't pass.

The federal government is not far behind. This week President Obama held a "Summit on Working Families" to discuss ideas and legislation that would provide employees with various workplace rights. And what was the primary focus of his summit? Mandating that employers provide paid time off for maternity leave (for mothers only). Days later he then brought much of this summit's message to a private town hall style meeting in Minnesota; friendly audience on an increasingly friendly issue in this state.

To answer the question though, today do you need to provide PTO in Minnesota or federally? No, but there is a lot of discussion going on about it and in Minnesota we came incredibly close to a mandate. I don't anticipate the issue going away, so stay tuned to the issues (and if you can avoid the commercials, congratulations).

 
 
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