A bill that would increase minimum wage for small businesses in Minnesota was introduced to the state senate on Thursday, February 21. The bill would amend the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act (MFLSA), increasing minimum wages, overtime pay, and maternity leaves for some.
The bill would increase the state minimum wage for all businesses to $7.25 per hour ($5.25 per hour is the current state standard for businesses exempt from federal regulation), require that workers be paid overtime after 40 hours in a week (currently state law requires overtime after 48 hours), increase maternity and disability leave from six weeks to twelve weeks, and strike language applying the rules differently for large and small businesses.
The bill will not affect many large and mid-sized businesses because companies earning $500,000 or more per year and companies involved in interstate commerce are already subject to the proposed rules under federal law. However, smaller businesses which are not currently subject to federal law would be affected.
Additionally, the bill would affect several types of workers who are currently exempted from the $7.25 federal wage standard including agricultural workers, newspaper delivery workers, seasonal employees, caregivers (both child care and home care), and certain professional employees. The bill would increase minimum wage for those employees above the existing state and federal requirements.
Senator Dan Sparks (DFL-District 27) and Senator Terri E. Bonoff (DFL-District 44) authored the bill. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) was involved in its creation. A DLI spokesman said the rationale for the proposed bill is to bring state laws into accordance with federal laws and simplify the wage and hour laws. He acknowledged that in the case of agriculture workers and others exempt from the federal $7.25 minimum wage, the state law would exceed, not simply comply with, federal law. However, the bill may see significant changes in the state legislature. Additionally, the spokesman pointed out, that there are proposals for a much higher federal minimum wage, which might make the issue moot. The DLI’s interest is to “simplify these multiple wage rates” in Minnesota, the spokesman said. “Our agency receives multiple calls each day because of the confusion.”