Employees in Minnesota have two state protections if they need time off work to handle issues arising from domestic violence or abuse. First, employees have the right to take time off to seek an order of protection against their abuser. Second, they have the right to use their sick leave for certain matters relating to domestic violence. Read on to learn more about these legal rights.
In Minnesota, employees are entitled to take time off, without facing employer retaliation, to seek an order of protection from domestic abuse. A protective order is a document that a judge issues that can require your abuser to get out of your shared home, stay away from your residence, school, and/or place of work, pay you restitution, and more. Under Minnesota law, your employer may not discipline, fire, or take any other negative action against you because you take a reasonable amount of time off work to get (or attempt to get) a protective order from domestic abuse. The law applies to all employers, and protects all employees who are seeking a protective order for themselves or for their children.
Unless you or your children are in imminent danger, or it’s otherwise not practicable, you must give your employer at least 48 hours’ notice that you need to take time off to get a protective order. Your employer can require you to provide verification that you took or need to take time off for this reason. Any notice, documents, or other information you provide to your employer must be kept confidential.
Minnesota law gives employees the right to use their paid sick leave as safety leave, whether or not their employer’s sick leave policy allows this use. Safety leave is time off to give or receive assistance for domestic abuse, stalking, or sexual assault. This law does not require your employer to provide paid sick leave in the first place, however. It only requires employers who already provide paid sick leave to allow that leave to be used for safety leave.
You may use safety leave to seek assistance for yourself or for your child (including your adult child), spouse, parent, parent-in-law, step-parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.
Employers are allowed to place a limit on how much sick leave an employee may use for safety leave and for time off to care for a sick family member. This limit may not be less than 160 hours per year for both purposes, combined.
Remember, your online research may not be private. Take sensible precautions if you share a phone plan or a computer with your abuser. As you take steps to plan for your safety, consider using a work phone or computer (if allowed) or a friend’s communications equipment for confidential research and calls.