Effective January 1, 2026, all employers with employees in Minnesota will be required to participate in the state-run paid family and medical leave program which provides both paid and protected leave. A 0.7% payroll tax will be introduced to fund the program, of which employers may deduct up to half (.35%) from employees’ wages. Employees are eligible after 90 days of employment. Once paid leave is completed, employees are entitled to their prior jobs or an equivalent position.

Employees are entitled to 12 weeks of paid leave for their own serious health condition or pregnancy, and up to 12 weeks for bonding, family care, safety leave, or a qualifying exigency. If both apply, leave is limited to a maximum of 20 weeks (not 24) total in a single benefit year. For instance, if an employee takes 12 weeks for pregnancy leave, they only have 8 weeks of bonding leave to use. Claims for leave must be based on a single event lasting at least 7 consecutive days, except for bonding purposes where the 7 day requirement does not apply.

The definition of serious health condition is a physical or mental illness, injury, impairment, condition, or substance use disorder involving:

  • Inpatient care in a hospital, hospice, or residential medical care facility, including any period of incapacity; or
  • Continuing treatment or supervision by a health care provider, which includes:
    • A period of incapacity lasting seven or more days, along with subsequent treatment or incapacity related to the same condition. This treatment should occur two or more times within 30 days of the first day of incapacity, unless circumstances beyond the individual’s control prevent follow-up visits. It also includes treatment by a health care provider that results in a continuing regimen of treatment under their supervision;
    • A period of incapacity due to medical care related to pregnancy;
    • A period of incapacity or treatment for a chronic health condition that requires periodic visits (at least twice a year) for treatment by a health care provider or under their orders or referral. This condition should continue over an extended period, including recurring episodes of the same underlying condition, with the possibility of episodic periods of incapacity;
    • A permanent or long-term incapacity caused by a condition for which treatment may not be effective. The employee or family member must remain under the continuing supervision of a health care provider, even if active treatment is not required; or
    • A period of absence to receive multiple treatments, including recovery periods, by a health care provider or under their orders or referral. This applies to restorative surgery following an accident or injury, or a condition that would likely result in incapacity for more than seven full calendar days without medical intervention.

Bonding means the time that an employee spends with their biological, adopted, or foster child alongside the child’s birth, adoption, or placement. When it comes to family care, it means that an employee is taking leave to provide care to a family member with a serious health condition or is a military member.

Here’s one very important thing to note – the term family member encompasses a broad range of relationships including individuals who expect and rely on the employee for care, regardless of whether they live together (need not be blood relatives).

Safety leave is a type of leave that will be granted to employees who are experiencing domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking. The purpose of safety leave may include seeking medical attention, obtaining counseling services, seeking relocation to a safer environment, or seeking legal advice or taking legal action.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of “how is this going to actually work” questions out there. At this point, I understand the state is looking to hire about 400 people to run this program, and so certainly it is going to take the next few years for this to all get worked out. I will continue to post about this as we get closer to implementation. For those of you thinking about short term disability policies – your question about why you’d have it with this program in place is well founded.