Supporting Our Hard-Working Minnesotans (Labor)

Senate DFLers made good on our commitment to putting workers’ rights and safety first and ensuring Minnesota’s economy is strong and fair for all.

Worker misclassification

More protections to prevent employers from short-changing employees by cutting them off from worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, overtime protections, paid family and medical leave, and more.

Senate DFLers passed nation leading protections from worker misclassification, a practice where employers falsely classify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. This practice denies workers basic workplace protections and critical benefits- exempting them from minimum wage and overtime laws, and denying them access to worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, paid leave, and more. In addition, independent contractors are required to pay both the employee and employer share of payroll taxes.

In total, these benefits provide employers considerable financial incentives to misclassify workers. Worker classification is also not a choice that any employer or worker can make about a specific position- rather, state law is clear that worker classification is based on the facts of an employment relationship.

The worker misclassification provisions contain 4 primary policy steps:

  1. Create specific penalties and enforcement powers related to worker misclassification.
  2. Create an Intergovernmental Education and Enforcement Partnership between DLI, DEED, Revenue, Commerce, and the AG’s office to share information and best practices related to educating the public and enforcing misclassification.
  3. Change the construction industry specific worker misclassification test.
  4. Reform the construction contractor registration process to simplify the process, and to take steps including prohibiting employers from requiring an individual that should be classified as an employee to register as a contractor.

Minimum Wage Modifications

Minnesota’s minimum wage has not kept up with inflation in recent years and has left behind folks including youth workers.

Senate DFLers passed legislation to allow Minnesota’s minimum wage to increase more quickly (up to 5% per year rather than 2.5% per year) so that the lowest wage Minnesota workers are not left behind during periods of high inflation. The legislation also removes carve outs that harm youth workers, certain foreign workers, and allows some workers to be left behind because they work for a small employer. These changes mean that beginning January 1, 2025, all workers except for some workers eligible for a time limited “training wage”, will be required to earn at least $10.85/hr, which may increase by as much as 5% based on inflation.

According to data analyzed by Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development, approximately 11.4% of Minnesota workers were earning less than $15.00/hr in December of 2022.

Rideshare

Passed nation-leading legislation that protects drivers and pays them a living wage, while keeping rideshares affordable for customers and keeping Uber and Lyft operating in Minnesota.

After 2 years of advocacy by drivers calling for improved working conditions, dozens of legislative hearings and task force meetings and significant negotiations with major Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), Senate DFLers, House DFLers, the administration, and drivers announced an agreement with Uber and Lyft that will strengthen driver protections and provide an estimated 20% raise to most TNC drivers in the state.

Expanding Collective Bargaining Rights

Opened the door for more workers at the U of M to unionize if they choose.

Workers at the University of Minnesota have been subject to statutorily mandated bargaining units that unfairly grouped workers in units that were too broad and difficult to organize- often combining workers with little in common, while placing workers in nearly identical roles and locations in different bargaining units. Although only 4 of 13 mandated U of M bargaining units are non-union, these 4 now hold about 2⁄3 of the U of M workforce.

Reforms contained in the Labor omnibus bill will provide an easier pathway for thousands of U of M workers to have a true choice in whether they form or join a union, by allowing them to organize around natural communities of interest the way that every other public employee has the opportunity to do.

All workers deserve a voice in their workplace, and Senate DFLers voted to ensure thousands of University of Minnesota workers have that right.

Earned Sick and Safe Time Modifications

Made modifications to protect workers and ensure employers have the clarity they need to comply with the law and provide strong benefits for their workers.

Senate DFLers passed modifications to Minnesota’s Earned Sick and Safe Time program, strengthening protections for workers so that they can actually use the paid sick time they have earned and accrued. The modifications include several clarifications supported by employers, while also ensuring employers can be held accountable and cannot deny workers access to paid leave that they have earned.

Salary Transparency Requirements

Took action to continue combatting racial and gender wage gaps in Minnesota by requiring salary transparency in job postings.

Senate DFLers passed legislation to require employers with 30 or more employees to post either the salary range or fixed pay rate for each job opening with the employer, including a general description of benefits and other benefits to be offered to a hired job applicant. The legislation does not prohibit an employer from offering a salary, rate of pay, or compensation outside of the posted range.

Women face a wage gap despite federal and state laws prohibiting it, and that gap increases over the course of a woman’s career. Women working full time, year-round typically are paid only 83 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts—and c women of color face even larger wage gaps. Even when factors like race, region, unionization status, education, occupation, industry, and work experience are taken into account, 38% of the wage gap remains unexplained.

This effort builds on 2023 legislation prohibiting employers from inquiring about pay history in order to determine an applicant’s compensation. The pay history law establishes the use of pay history in determining compensation as an unfair discriminatory employment practice. Wage gaps improve when compensation is based upon a fair negotiation, not off what a worker was paid previously or based on unequal information about the employer’s willingness to pay.

Protecting Workers from Lead Exposure in the Workplace:

As our understanding of how hazardous materials like lead can be for human health, our workplace protections need to keep up. Minnesota will have a scientifically and medically based standard for allowable lead exposure, rather than an outdated federal standard.

Following examples of workers and their families facing health risks after higher than recommended exposure to lead, despite those exposures falling within allowable workplace levels under federal OSHA standards, Senate DFLers passed legislation to require a new state lead exposure standard in the workplace.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, in consultation with the Department of Health, will undergo rulemaking to set a science and public health-based standard for acceptable blood lead levels for workers.

The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) guidance on lead exposure states that there is no safe amount of lead, as new health consequences continue to be identified. While the dangers of lead contamination have been known for some time, research continues to identify new dangers of lead poisoning.

Paid Leave: Made adjustments to help ensure the program is ready to launch smoothly in 2026.

The legislature passed modifications to the Paid Family and Medical Leave, or “Paid Leave” program that will assist in a smooth rollout of the program when it begins on January 1, 2026. This includes clarifying changes, establishing a process to appeal a determination on benefits, and tweaks to the process that will be used to set the premium rate to support a stable premium and program that will deliver more than $1.4 billion in critical benefits per year, supporting Minnesotans and their families and the most important moments of their lives.

Senate DFLers took a historic step in 2023 to support the health, economic security, and wellbeing of Minnesotans and their families by passing the state’s first ever Paid Family and Medical Leave Program. The program will support all workers by offering partial wage replacement and job protections if they need to access leave to care for themselves or a loved one, to welcome a new child into their family, to serve in the military, or need safety leave. The modifications passed in 2024 build on that work.

Senate DFL Media