Minnesota Governor Signs Paid Family Leave and Medical Leave Act Giving Workers Up to 20 Weeks of Vacation

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — Minnesota workers will be entitled to paid leave starting in 2026 in case of serious illness or to care for newborns or loved ones under bill Democratic Gov. Tim Waltz signed it Thursday, making the state the 12th state to request those benefits.

Paid Family Leave and Medical Leave Program Minnesota workers will be allowed up to 12 weeks of leave per year with partial pay to care for newborns, sick family members, and recover from serious illnesses themselves. Benefits for both employees are limited to 20 weeks per year.

Business groups fought to block the proposal, warning that it would impose huge costs and regulatory burdens on employers and exacerbate staffing problems. But supporters hailed it as bringing equality and fairness to the workplace.

“Everyone has the right to get away from work and get paid time to heal, grow and live,” Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said at the signing ceremony. “This time is not optional.

The program operates similarly to unemployment insurance. This funding will be financed by a new 0.7% payroll tax for employers that will take effect in 2026. Employers can deduct half of the premium from workers’ wages. The law includes protections against retaliation against workers who take leave. It also includes premium reduction measures for small businesses.

Paid family and medical leave Align with the state’s new paid sickness and safety hours program It will go into effect on January 1 for short-term relief. Unless the employer agrees further, the employee gets her one hour of sick and safety leave for every 30 hours she works, up to a maximum of 48 hours per year.

Minnesota, along with the District of Columbia, will become the 12th state to have some form of paid family leave and medical leave program. Waltz said the legislators, activists and officials who developed the program have worked closely with those states to learn from the program and find ways to improve it.

Jocelyn Frye, president of the National Women’s and Family Partnership, said Minnesota will ultimately have one of the strongest programs in the country.

National paid leave system Was part of President Joe Biden’s original ‘Build Back Better’ It was on the agenda, passed the U.S. House of Representatives, but did not become law. Fry said her group hopes Minnesota’s recruitment will one day become a driving force for national programs. But she conceded that in the current divided parliament, that is difficult.

“Like many issues, what’s going on in each state affects whether or not Congress takes the issue across the board, and paid family and medical leave is no exception,” she said.

But John Reynolds, state director of the Minnesota National Federation of Independent Businesses, said it was “a deeply flawed proposition that will cost much more than expected and make it difficult for small businesses to keep their doors open.” said.

Doug Roon, president and CEO of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said the program could be the largest employer obligation in state history.

“This sweeping policy will bring about fundamental change for all employers and employees in the state. until the holidays,” Loon said in a statement.

But supporters said Minnesota needs to consider the costs of not offering paid vacation. They said programs in other areas reduced infant and maternal mortality, made it easier for mothers to return to work after giving birth, and reduced reliance on social welfare programs.

“This will be a great leveling to address the deep and persistent inequalities that exist in Minnesota,” said House lead author Rep. Ruth Richardson of Mendota Heights. “This will allow people left behind from paid leave programs to take care of themselves for the first time without having to choose between a paycheck and the family they love.”

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