Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay: What Employers Need to Do | Winthrop & Weinstine, PA
The Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay Law, also known as the “Hero Pay Law,” became effective on April 29, 2022 and establishes criteria for eligible COVID-19 frontline workers to receive a one-time bonus payment of up to $1,500 from a government-sponsored pool. The payments are intended to reward and recognize individuals who have continued to show up for work in person to ensure Minnesota has been able to continue functioning during the pandemic.
On June 7, 2022, the state issued guidance on the requirements of the law. Covered Employers must take action before June 23, 2022. The frontline worker pay application is open from June 8 to July 22, 2022. Eligible workers have 45 days to claim frontline worker pay. If your workforce includes insured employees, your company must take steps to comply with statutory reporting requirements.
Are my employees insured?
The Frontline Worker Pay Law identifies 15 “frontline sectors” of eligible workers. They are:
- long-term care and home care;
- health care;
- emergency responders;
- public health, social and security services;
- courts and correctional facilities;
- schools, including charter schools, government schools and colleges;
- gastronomy, including production, processing, preparation, sale and delivery;
- retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution and delivery;
- shelters and hotels;
- building services including maintenance, janitorial and security;
- public transport;
- ground and air transportation services;
- manufacturing; and
- professional reintegration.
The law does not provide definitions for any of the frontline sectors mentioned, but the state recently enacted one Industry Factsheet which provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of frontline work environments in each sector. If you have employees in one or more of the frontline sectors, your company must take steps to comply with legal requirements.
What must my company do?
While employee bonus payments come from a government fund and not employers, companies with employees in frontline sectors are required by law to notify all eligible employees of the application process. There are other eligibility requirements such as adjusted gross income thresholds, hour requirements, and others, but it is not the responsibility of employers to make decisions about who might meet all the requirements. Upon receipt of notification, it is the employee’s responsibility to complete the application if they believe they are eligible for the bonus.
Employers are not automatically required to verify or provide supporting documents in order for an employee’s application to be processed. However, applicants are asked to authorize the state to contact their current or former employer for eligibility verification purposes if the state deems it necessary in reviewing an application. It’s not yet clear what might prompt the state to reach out to an employer, or how quickly employers must respond to verification requests. Records or information an employer may be required to provide include: hours worked by an employee between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021; the type of work done; whether an employee was able to telework; and whether an employee has worked in close proximity to anyone outside of their household.
All current Minnesota employees who may be eligible for the Frontline Bonus must be notified by June 23, 2022. The notification form is published in the Ministry of Labor and Industry website in English, Hmong, Somali and Spanish.
The notice form must be provided in the same manner that your company provides other work-related notices to employees, such as or electronic copy of the notice to all employees. While the law does not provide for consequences for employers who fail to give notice, it would be wise to give notice in a way that your company can document if necessary.