As reported by the Duluth News Tribune, Minnesota’s new Wage Theft Law allows for penalties levied against business owners to include fines up to $100,000 and 20 years of jail time. The harsh penalties may apply in cases in which it is determined that employees’ shortchanged or missing paychecks reflect an employer’s “intent to defraud.”
The new law requires employers to maintain specific and detailed documents relevant to employment matters and each worker’s compensation information. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry may impose a $5,000 fine on employers who are unable to present these documents to the state when requested. The Wage Theft Law also requires employers to provide employees with written documentation of their terms of employment and compensation.
The new documentation requirements do not exclude any employees. Administrative, professional and management positions are all included, along with hourly and seasonal workers. All of the required documentation must be kept on file for three years past an employee’s termination date. Minnesota’s new law also protects employees from retaliation if they assert their rights or submit wage complaints.
The new legislation appropriates an additional $1.5 million each year toward the Minnesota DLI’s investigative budget. The intent of the increase is for the state’s Department of Labor and Industry to become proactive and do more than respond to wage complaints. The expanded budget and larger investigative staff will help identify those industries most prone to wage issues.
Business owners operating within those sectors and industries demonstrating wage issues may wish to learn more about preparing for possible on-site inspections, even if their companies have been complaint-free. Some of the business sectors that might face inspections include maintenance and janitorial companies, the construction fields, food services, home care and security services.
The Minnesota DLI takes into consideration the possibility of employers inadvertently violating one or more of the new law’s many provisions. To this end, the agency makes available guidelines, documentation examples and a Wage Theft Law FAQ web page for anyone seeking information and guidance.