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Minnesota Passes Legislation to Provide Frontline Employees with Additional Compensation

At the end of April, Governor Waltz signed SF 2677 into law, providing frontline workers with bonus payments in recognition of their perseverance and sacrifices made during the COVID-19 emergency declared by the state. The state has implemented an online application process in order for eligible workers to apply to receive a bonus payment. The tentative date for launching of the application portal is June 8, 2022, and the portal will remain open through July 22, 2022. Once the system is set to receive applications, eligible employees will have 45 days to apply for the bonus pay. And those who are denied will have the ability to appeal the state’s decision within 15 days of receiving the denial confirmation.

Employer/Employee Eligibility

According to SF 2677, in order for an employee to be eligible they must work in one of the following eligible frontline sectors:

  1. Long-term care and home care;
  2. Health care;
  3. Emergency responders;
  4. Public health, social service, and regulatory service;
  5. Courts and corrections;
  6. Childcare;
  7. Schools, including charter schools, state schools, and higher education;
  8. Food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale, and delivery;
  9. Retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery;
  10. Temporary shelters and hotels;
  11. Building services, including maintenance, janitorial, and security;
  12. Public transit;
  13. Ground and air transportation services;
  14. Manufacturing; and
  15. Vocational rehabilitation.

In addition to having worked in one of the above-mentioned work divisions, frontline employees must also meet specific criteria in order to receive payment. Those requirements are:

  • The individual was employed for at least 120 hours within Minnesota while working in one of the eligible fields between the period of March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021;
  • During the time spent between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021, the employee was unable to work remotely due to the nature of the work performed as well as had worked directly in close proximity to individuals outside of their household as part of their job;
  • The individual meets one of the following income requirements:
    • Workers with direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities must have had an adjusted gross income of less than $350,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or less than $175,000 for other filers and;
    • For workers in occupations without direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities, the adjusted gross income limit is $185,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or $85,000 for other filers; and
  • The worker did not receive any unemployment insurance benefit payments for more than 20 weeks on a cumulative basis for weeks between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021.

With passing SF 2677, Minnesota has allocated roughly $500 million of their budget for this benefit program. It has been determined that once the deadline for applications has elapsed the state commissioner will review said applications and compile an official list of eligible individuals for the funds to be distributed to. All eligible frontline employees are set to receive the same amount as payment, and per the legislation, it will not exceed $1,500. 

Employer Notice Requirements

Even though this benefit program is being overseen directly by the State of Minnesota, identified frontline employers still have an obligation to inform employees of their ability to apply to the program. Specifically, employers must notify all current employees within 15 days of the tentative application period opening of June 8, 2022. At this time, an official notice has yet to be released by the state, but further guidance has been confirmed to be released shortly after the application program dates are officially finalized.

Next Steps for Employers

In the meantime, employers that fall within one of the designated frontline fields are encouraged to remain well-informed of any changes that occur to the program, especially the dates surrounding the application and employer notice periods. For additional information on the Frontline Worker Payment Program, the Minnesota Department of Labor has released the following website to keep employers and employees update and has recently provided a Frequently Asked Questions resource regarding the program.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.