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Minn. Workers Can Soon Take Medical Leave To Care For Family Members

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you work at a Minnesota company with at least 21 employees, there's a change in the law you should know about. It has to do with sick leave benefits.

The Minnesota Parenting Leave Act will change at midnight Wednesday.

You will be able to take a medical leave not only to care for children, but other family members as well.

Parents have gotten used to the idea that they are able to use their sick time to care for ill or injured children. That includes an unpaid leave of absence, up to six weeks.

"Having that ability, and alleviating that concern is huge," said Evan Schwartz of Minneapolis.

The new law now covers adult children, spouses, grandparents and step well as the employee's parents and siblings.

"I think it's great. I'm a family first guy, and there's been times when I've had to make that tough call, and I think it's just really great that they took that concern out of your hands," Schwartz said.

The new law does not require employers to offer sick time to their employees, but the change does affect companies that already offer these benefits.

Katherine Howard used to run a small business.

"How many sick days does this person have, and how many vacation days, and how many personal leave...I mean, you could make yourself a lot of trouble keeping track of which days were which," she said.

The law does not change any other conditions of a leave. For example, health insurance coverage continues for the employee, and they return to work at the same rate of pay.

"I can't believe that this is a law change just going into effect now, seems like companies should be more human, and have offered this already to their employees," said Anna Wesley of St. Paul.

The state of Minnesota is making posters available to all employers who want them, explaining the changes to the sick leave law.

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