In addition to the leave provided by your employer’s discretionary policies on vacation time, sick leave, personal days, or paid time off (PTO), you may have a legal right to take time off work for specific reasons under federal and Minnesota laws. For example, if you are caring for an ailing family member or recovering from childbirth, you may have a right to leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Minnesota law provides additional leave rights, including the right to time off for parenting, domestic violence, and to attend certain military and school activities.
This article provides an overview of your right to time off from work in Minnesota. For more information, see our page on employee leave rights.
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) gives eligible employees the right to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for a seriously ill family member (spouse, parent, or child), recuperate from their own serious health conditions, bond with a new child, or handle certain practical matters arising from a family member’s military service. The FMLA also requires employers to give employees up to 26 weeks off to care for a family member who suffered or exacerbated a serious illness or injury while serving in the military. (For purposes of this military family leave provision only, employees may take leave to care for a broader group of family members, including siblings, grandparents, and cousins, if they are next of kin to an injured service member.)
The FMLA applies to employers in all states with at least 50 employees. Employees are eligible only if they have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,250 hours in the 12 months before taking leave. (Learn much more about your rights under the FMLA at our Taking Family and Medical Leave page.)
Some states have created laws that provide employees with leave for family and medical reasons. Sometimes these laws overlap with the FMLA and don’t create additional rights. Often, however, state law applies to a wider set of employers, has more relaxed eligibility requirements for employees, or covers a broader set of family members. In Minnesota, employees have the right to take time off to bond with a new child, for certain kinds of military family leave, and for school activities.
Another federal law, the Unformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) gives eligible employees the right to be reinstated to their jobs after taking up to five years off for service in the U.S. military. (Find out all about USERRA in Nolo's article, Taking Military Leave.) Employers may not discriminate against employees based on their military service. And, employees may be fired only for good cause for a period of up to one year after they return from service, even if they would otherwise work at will. (See Employment At Will: What Does It Mean? to learn more.)
The laws of many states extend similar rights to employees who serve in the state’s military, including the right to take time off from work and to be reinstated afterwards. Minnesota law does not provide these rights, however. Although Minnesota employers may not fire an employee for serving in the state or federal military, threaten the employee’s job, or otherwise interfere with the employee’s military duty, they are not required to provide leave or reinstatement to employee’s serving in the military.
Minnesota law also gives employees the right to take time off work, without fear of retaliation, for the civic responsibilities of voting and serving on a jury. For voting, employees must be allowed to take off the time they need to get to the polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work. This time off must be paid.
Employers must allow employees to take time off to serve on a jury. Employers may not threaten or coerce an employee who needs time off to serve on a jury. Minnesota law does not require this time off to be paid. However, under federal law, employers typically cannot deduct an exempt, salaried employee’s pay for time spent serving on a jury, unless the employee did no work for the entire week. For more information, see our article on pay docking.
In Minnesota, employees may take time off work to seek a protective order from domestic abuse. This law applies to all employers, regardless of size. An employee who has been a victim of domestic violence may take a reasonable amount of time off work for this purpose (the law doesn’t specify how much time is reasonable).