City Council approves wage theft prevention ordinance

The City Council approved a wage theft prevention ordinance today. To help prevent wage theft and protect employees in Minneapolis, the City has adopted parts of the state’s new wage theft law into local ordinance. This ordinance will provide workers in Minneapolis with an additional avenue to recover unpaid wages through enforcement by the City’s Civil Rights Department.

Under the ordinance and state law, employers must adhere to a regularly scheduled payday, provide employees with pre-hire notices of employment terms and conditions and earnings statements at the end of each pay period. The wage theft prevention ordinance complements other new municipal labor standards, including the City’s minimum wage and sick and safe time ordinances. The ordinance takes effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Wage theft is underpayment or failure to pay all wages earned. National estimates of wage theft unreported to authorities translate to tens of millions of dollars annually in Minneapolis.

The City’s ordinance goes further than the state wage theft law by requiring employers to include an employee’s current balance of available sick and safe time hours on all earnings statements. The ordinance also requires the following on pre-hire notices, in addition to state law requirements: the date when employment begins, a notice regarding sick and safe time rights, a statement that tip sharing is voluntary under state law (where applicable) and relevant overtime policies.

The ordinance covers all employers with covered employees working in Minneapolis but excludes government entities except for the City. Covered employees must work at least 80 hours a year in Minneapolis.

The City’s Civil Rights Department will enforce the ordinance beginning Jan. 1, 2020. Employees are encouraged to report violations online or call 311.

“As a former employment attorney, I’ve seen firsthand the devastating impact wage theft has on low-wage workers and families,” said Mayor Jacob Frey. “I want to commend the many supportive businesses who are contributing so much to the fabric of our communities and the workers on their payroll. In the lead up to the ordinance’s implementation, City staff and policymakers will continue working with workers’ rights organizations and business communities to ensure a smooth transition.”

“We have existing infrastructure at the City to deal with issues locally, which provides us an ability to amplify the work being done at the state,” said Council Member Linea Palmisano. “Passing this ordinance will also allow us to codify a working relationship to make sure our combined enforcement capacity is as efficient and effective as possible. Thank you to everyone who came to the table.”

“This ordinance got so much better through community engagement, and it will be more effective at preventing wage theft because we did that work,” said Council Member Steve Fletcher. “I want to thank everyone who made thoughtful contributions to this law – workers, advocates, small businesses, and large employers alike.”

“I want to reiterate the importance in this work of the contributions from community members, business owners and workers,” said Council Member Phillipe Cunningham. “This is the type of collaboration and engagement that will model what we want to see from the City moving forward.”

For more information about the wage theft prevention ordinance, visit the City’s website.

 

Published Aug 8, 2019

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