Revisions to the state’s wage-and-hour laws enacted

Nilan Johnson Lewis logoThe Minnesota legislature recently enacted sweeping revisions to the state’s wage-and-hour laws to combat “wage theft.” Veena Iyer, attorney at Nilan Johnson Lewis, developed these key takeaways for nonprofit employers.

Effective July 1, 2019, employers face more onerous notice and recordkeeping requirements, including the obligation to:

  • Provide employees “at the start of employment” a wage notice which includes a wide range of information, including details regarding the employees’ wages, deductions, and vacation/PTO.
  • Obtain employees’ signatures on the notices and retain copies of the notices.
  • Provide a written update prior to the date that any information on the original notice changes (e.g., if an employee receives additional vacation days, the employee must receive a new notice).
  • Pay all non-commissioned earnings at least every 31 days and all earned commissions at least every three months.
  • Include on earnings statements the basis of pay, allowances for meals or lodging, and the employer’s address and phone number.
  • Maintain a list of personnel polices—not just those relating to the payment of wages—provided to each employee, a brief description of the policies, and the dates provided to the employee.

Effective August 1, 2019, employers will be criminally liable for various wage violations, including failing to pay wages required by law.

Significantly, Nilan Johnson Lewis staff read the new law to require wage notices and updated wage notices to be provided to new employees only, i.e. those hired on or after July 1, 2019. However, an aggressive plaintiffs’ firm could argue that wage notices must be provided to current employees. The Minnesota Department of Labor has issued preliminary guidance regarding the new law that is available here, but it does not address this issue. A risk-averse employer therefore may wish to issue wage notices to current employees.

The new law is complex, will affect almost every Minnesota employer, and, for many employers, may require significant work to come into compliance with the civil provisions by July 1, 2019. Nilan Johnson Lewis has therefore prepared a more detailed summary of the main provisions of the law which is available here.

In light of the short timeline, Nilan Johnson Lewis is recommending that employers take the following steps:

  • Create wage notice templates.
  • Create a process for providing wage notices and updated wage notice at required times.
  • Contact their payroll vendor and HRIS vendors regarding required updates to earnings statements.
  • Review their pay practices to ensure that all earnings other than commissions are paid once every 31 days and that earned commissions are paid at least once every three months.
  • Review commission plans regarding commission payment timing and the provisions for when a commission is considered to be earned.
  • Create a system for tracking the personnel policies provided to each employee.

Latest Developments

Wage Notice Issued (updated 6/26/2019): Nilan Johnson Lewis added this information online in late-June: DOLI FAQ and sample wage notice issued 

Additional Clarification Added
(updated 7/31/2019): Attorneys at Nilan Johnson Lewis previously reported that employers are now required to comply with the civil provisions of Minnesota’s Wage Theft Statute, which went into effect on July 1. The Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry (DOLI) updated its Wage Theft Q&A in late-July. Attorneys at Nilan Johnson Lewis (NJL) summarized the highlights of this update below.

Content of Earnings Statements: The DOLI no longer requires employers to provide the reason for the employee’s rate of pay on the employee’s earnings statement. As you may recall, the DOLI previously required employers to state whether a rate of pay was, for instance, established by a collective bargaining agreement, set by the employer, or required by law, despite the Wage Theft Statute’s silence on this issue. In light of this change to the DOLI’s interpretation of the law, NJL recommends removing this information from employees’ earnings statements. 

Wage Notice Content: The DOLI considers non-discretionary bonuses to be a rate of pay and, therefore, requires them to be included on the employee’s initial wage notice. To comply with this requirement without having to issue change notifications every time the bonus amount or plan changes, NJL recommends providing a general statement about these bonuses, along with a link to the bonus plan if desired. However, note that any linked information will need to be translated if the employee requests the wage notice in a different language. A general statement describing an employee’s entitlement to non-discretionary bonuses could read: “You are eligible to receive a non-discretionary bonus at the end of each [month/quarter/year], which is calculated as [briefly and generally describe bonus calculation method]. Please visit [link] for full bonus plan information.”