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Wage and Hour Issues in Minnesota

What can I do if my employer is not paying the minimum wage?

You must receive at least the minimum wage per hour for all hours your employer requires you to work, including preparation time, on-the-job training, opening and closing times, and required meetings. If your employer is not paying you at least the minimum wage, call the Department of Labor and Industry, Labor Standards unit, to file a complaint (contact information is listed below). Labor Standards will review your complaint to determine what action needs to be taken.

Can my employer require me to come in and wait around the workplace until it gets busy, without being paid?

No, the employer is required to pay for all hours worked, including waiting time, call time, training time and any other time the employee is restricted to the premises of the employer.

When does my employer have to pay me overtime?

Overtime is to be paid at one and one-half times the regular rate of pay for all hours worked in excess of 48 hours in a seven-day workweek, under state law. However, some businesses may be subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that requires overtime after 40 hours in a seven-day workweek. No employer or employee may enter into an agreement that would violate the overtime law requiring an employee to be paid overtime.

If a holiday falls in a workweek and you work your full week besides, don’t you have to be paid overtime?

No, overtime is based on actual hours worked and does not include holidays, vacation leave or sick leave days used.

I am an employer and I want to put my employees on salary. Do I still have to pay overtime?

Yes, overtime must be paid unless the worker is employed in agriculture or qualifies for exemption from minimum wage and overtime by the salary and duty tests for the executive, administrative or professional exemptions. Contact the Department of Labor and Industry, Labor Standards unit (contact information is listed below) for further information.

My employer wants to take my wages to make up for cash shortages or things I break. Can they do that?

Your employer may not deduct from your wages for breakages, cash shortages, tools or uniforms. Some exceptions to this rule are allowed. Contact the Department of Labor and Industry, Labor Standards unit (contact information is listed below) for more information.

I was just fired (laid off, job ended); when does my employer have to pay me?

Your paycheck is to be issued within 24 hours of your demand for wages (see Minnesota Statutes 181.13). If you quit, your wages are due within the next pay period that is more than five days after quitting. However, wages must be paid within 20 days of separation (see Minnesota Statutes 181.14). In cases where the discharged or quitting employee was entrusted with money or property during employment, the employer shall have an additional 10 calendar-days after the date of the employee’s separation to audit the accounts of the employee before the employee’s wages are to be paid.

I am a commissioned salesperson, when are my commissions due after I leave employment?

The employer would be obliged to continue with your employment agreement and pay your commissions when they would normally be earned, less any deductions that are authorized by company policy. Sometimes commissions are not earned until the product is delivered and the customer pays. This can be several months after the job ends. Commissions are controlled by contractual agreement.

What happens if my employer overpays my wages?

The Department of Labor and Industry policy regarding overpayment of wages is that the employer has the right to recover any overpayment caused by a bookkeeping error; therefore, an employer must be reimbursed for overpayment of wages.

My employer closed its doors without paying my wages. How do I find out if it has filed for bankruptcy?

You can contact the nearest U.S. bankruptcy referee in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth or Fergus Falls. If the employer has filed bankruptcy, the referee will give you the name of the attorney handling the case, so that you can contact them and list your name as a creditor. You may contact the clerk of the bankruptcy court to file a preferred wage claim if there are concerns that sufficient funds will not be available to cover your wages as a creditor. Major stockholders, owners and officers of a bankrupt business may be personally liable.

What is a payroll card and how is it used?

A payroll card can be used similar to a debit card. An employee can keep a balance on the card to either use at an automated teller machine (ATM) or a retail establishment. Instead of receiving a check on payday, the employee’s wages are deposited into an account accessible through the payroll card. Beginning in 2005, Minnesota law allows employers to offer the option of payroll cards to their employees, as long as the employee has the right to collect wages in an alternative form, such as cash, a check or direct deposit.

Breaks and Other Issues

How many hours do I have to work to be considered a full-time employee?

Minnesota law does not define employees as full or part time, rather Minnesota Rules 5200.0170 defines a workweek. A workweek is a fixed and regularly recurring period of 168 hours, seven consecutive 24-hour periods.

For the purpose of overtime calculation Minnesota Statutes 177.25 states hours worked in excess of 48 hours in a workweek must be paid at one-and-one-half times the regular rate of pay.

Can my employer require me to work overtime and fire me if I refuse to work overtime?

The employer has the authority to establish the work schedule and determine the hours to be worked. There are no limits on the overtime hours the employer can schedule. Employees who refuse to work the scheduled hours may be terminated. Advance notice by an employer of the change in hours is not required.

Doesn’t my employer have to give me a break?

The state law requires employers to provide restroom time and sufficient time to eat a meal. If the break is less than 20 minutes in duration, it must be counted as hours worked. Time to use the nearest restroom must be provided within each four consecutive hours of work. Meal time applies to employees who work eight or more consecutive hours (see Minnesota Statutes 177.253 and 177.254).

What about nursing mothers?

An employee must be provided reasonable unpaid break time to express breast milk for her child. Breaks already provided may fulfull this requirement. Employers are not required to provide this time if doing so would seriously disrupt operations. The employer must also make reasonable efforts to provide a private area for this purpose, other than a toilet stall.

Do I get time off work for school visits?

Every employee is entitled to take up to 16 hours unpaid leave a year to attend their children’s school conferences, classroom activities, child care or other early childhood program. Employees may use vacation time.

Source: Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry

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