The Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay Law, also referred to as the “hero pay” law, was signed into law on April 29, 2022, setting forth criteria for eligible COVID-19 frontline workers to receive a one-time bonus payment of up to $1,500 from a state-funded pool. The payments are intended to reward and recognize individuals who continued to show up to work in-person to ensure Minnesota was able to continue functioning during the pandemic.
On June 7, 2022, the state issued guidance on the requirements of the law. Covered employers need to take action before June 23, 2022. The Frontline Worker Pay application will be open June 8 through July 22, 2022. Eligible workers will have 45 days to apply for Frontline Worker Pay. If your workforce includes covered employees, your company must take steps to comply with the law’s notice requirements.
Are my employees covered?
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 service, and regulatory service;
- courts and corrections;
- child care;
- schools, including charter schools, state schools and higher education;
- food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale and delivery;
- retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution and delivery;
- temporary shelters and hotels;
- building services, including maintenance, janitorial and security;
- public transit;
- ground and air transportation services;
- manufacturing; and
- vocational rehabilitation.
The law does not provide definitions for any of the named frontline sectors, however, the state recently issued an Industry Sectors Fact Sheet that provides a non-exhaustive list of examples of work settings within each frontline sector. If you have employees in one or more of the frontline sectors, your company must take steps to comply with the requirements of the law.
What does my company need to do?
While the employee bonus payments will come from a state fund, not from employers, companies with employees in frontline sectors are required under the law to provide notice of the application process to all eligible employees. There are other eligibility requirements such as adjusted gross income thresholds, hours requirements, and others, but it is not the responsibility of employers to make determinations as to who might meet all the requirements. After receiving the notice, it is up to the employees to fill out the application if they believe they are eligible for the bonus.
Employers will not automatically be required to verify or provide supporting documentation in order for an employee’s application to be processed, however, applicants will be asked to provide authorization for the state to reach out to their current or former employer for purposes of eligibility verification if the state deems it necessary during review of an application. It is not yet clear what could trigger the state to reach out to an employer or how quickly employers will need to respond to verification requests. Records or information an employer may potentially need to provide include: hours worked by an employee between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021; the type of work performed; whether an employee was able to telework; and whether an employee worked in close proximity to people outside of their household.
Notice must be provided to all current Minnesota workers who may be eligible for the frontline bonus by June 23, 2022. The form of the notice is posted on the Department of Labor and Industry website in English, Hmong, Somali, and Spanish.
The form notice must be provided in the same way your company provides other work-related notices to employees, such as posting a copy at each worksite that will be “readily observed or reviewed by all workers working at the site,” or providing a paper or electronic copy of the notice to all employees. While the law does not specify consequences for employers that fail to provide notice, it would be wise to provide the notice in a way that your company can document as having occurred, if necessary.
For more information about the Frontline Worker Pay Law requirements for employers, please feel free to reach out to any member of our Employment team.