Eligible Minnesota workers can now apply for a bonus through the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) under the COVID-19 Frontline Workers Compensation Act.
Below is an overview of what employers need to know about this new law, including what it requires of them.
What is the COVID-19 Frontline Worker Compensation Act?
Minnesota’s COVID-19 Frontline Worker Compensation Act, signed into law by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on April 29, 2022, authorizes direct payments to eligible Minnesota workers whose work puts them at risk of contracting COVID-19. 19 peacetime emergency. Employers aren’t required to fund the bonus, but the bonuses will come from a $500 million state fund the state has set aside to distribute among approximately 667,000 Minnesota frontline workers. Currently, the state expects each eligible worker to receive approximately $750, although the amount of bonuses is ultimately determined by the number of eligible applicants, not to exceed $1,500 per applicant.
What are the eligibility criteria?
To be eligible for front-line worker compensation, the worker must:
- Have worked at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more “frontline areas” between March 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021.
- For at least 120 hours worked during this period:
- Could not telecommute due to the nature of their work.
- Having worked in close proximity to people outside the worker’s household.
- Meet the income requirements for at least one of the 2020 or 2021 tax years.
- Have not received unemployment insurance benefits for more than 20 weeks in total between March 15, 2020 and June 26, 2021.
The state has defined “close proximity to people outside the person’s household” to mean within six feet of people with whom the worker does not live. To be eligible, a worker must not have had the opportunity to work remotely or in teleworking status.
To qualify for a payment, a worker’s adjusted gross income must be less than the following amounts for at least one of the 2020 or 2021 tax years:
- For a worker who was in an occupation with direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities, $350,000 for a married taxpayer filing jointly and $175,000 for all other filers.
- For all other workers, $185,000 for a married taxpayer filing jointly and $85,000 for all other filers.
What are the frontline sectors?
The state has defined “front line areas” to include the following:
- Building services including maintenance, janitorial and security
- child care
- Courts and corrections
- Emergency Responders
- Food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale and delivery
- Land and air transport services
- Health care
- Long-term care and home care
- Public Health, Social Service and Regulatory Service
- Public transport
- Retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution and delivery
- Schools, including charter schools, public schools, and higher education
- Temporary shelters and hotels
- Vocational rehabilitation
Industries not included in the definition of “front-line sectors” include the professional, scientific and technical services industries, the information services industry, the finance and insurance industries, the utilities industry, the construction industry and the arts, entertainment and recreation industries. The state recently released a fact sheet that provides employers with additional guidance for assessing whether they belong to one of the frontline industries, including examples of specific types of employers in each industry.
How do workers apply?
Workers can apply on the Minnesota COVID-19 Frontline Worker webpage. The application period is expected to be open from June 8, 2022 to Friday, July 22, 2022, although dates may be subject to change. If a request is refused, candidates have 15 days from the notification of the refusal to appeal.
What are my obligations as an employer?
By June 23, 2022, frontline employers are required to provide notice, in a form approved by Commissioner DOLI, notifying all current workers who may be eligible for frontline worker compensation. assistance potentially available to them and how to apply for the benefits. Employers must provide the notice using the same means the employer uses to provide other work-related notices to employees. The notice must be at least as conspicuous as (1) posting a copy of the notice at each workplace where workers work and where the notice can be readily observed and reviewed by all workers working at the site; or (2) provide a paper or electronic copy of the notice to all workers.