A new COVID-related bonus from the State of Minnesota is coming “to thank those Minnesotans who worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency.”  Certain employers who employed frontline workers in Minnesota have affirmative, required steps to take to make their employees aware of the opportunity.

The Frontline Worker Pay law requires that employers in a frontline sector provide notice by June 23, 2022, in a form approved by the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, advising all current workers who may be eligible for Frontline Worker Pay of the assistance potentially available to them and how to apply for benefits.

This is an affirmative obligation of covered employers in frontline sectors. Frontline sectors include:

  • Long-term care and home care
  • Health care
  • Emergency responders
  • Public health, social service and regulatory service
  • Courts and corrections
  • Childcare
  • 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
  • Vocational rehabilitation

To be eligible for Frontline Worker Pay, an applicant must:

  • Have been employed at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
  • For the at least 120 hours worked during this time period the applicant:
    • Was not able to telework due to the nature of the individual’s work.
    • Worked near people outside of the individual’s household.
  • Meet the income requirements.
  • Have not received an unemployment insurance benefit payment for more than 20 weeks for the weeks between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021.

What Employers Must Do Before June 23, 2022

Employers in a frontline sector must provide notice advising all current workers who may be eligible for Frontline Worker Pay of the assistance potentially available to them and how to apply for benefits. The form is approved by the commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry. An employer must provide notice using the same means the employer uses to provide other work-related notices to employees. Employers should at least:

  • Post a copy of the notice at each worksite where workers work and where the notice may be readily observed and reviewed by all workers working at the site; or
  • Provide a paper or electronic copy of the notice to all workers.

The actual notice itself is available in multiple languages at https://www.dli.mn.gov/notice

What Employers Are Not Required to Do

Employers are not required to assist employees in completing the application, and are not required to provide documentation or other verification for an application to be processed.

What Employers May Want to Do

The State may reach out to current or former employers of applicants for purposes of eligibility verification. In the application process, employees are asked to provide (i) the phone number for the human resources contact or supervisor; and (ii) the email address for the human resources contact or supervisor, if known. It may be beneficial for employers to designate and make employees aware of the one or two people in the organization who should be listed for this verification purpose. That could help streamline the verification requests that come and the time and effort to respond.

Employers may also choose to engage in efforts to promote, assist and advocate for employees through the Frontline Worker Pay process. Although this is a state-funded program, employers can promote it as one of many ways the community (including the employer) is giving thanks to those frontline heroes of the pandemic. Employees will appreciate the assistance and advocacy that comes from the employer, and it can be a retention effort of sorts for employers in the State of Minnesota.

The State of Minnesota has provided very detailed resources to help employees and employers. Those resources, including a Frequently Asked Questions document are located at: https://www.dli.mn.gov/toolkit?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery