State officials gearing up for wage, work changes

State officials are getting ready for several labor law changes this summer that will affect businesses and employees.

The workplace protections of the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) are kicking in, and the Minnesota’s minimum wage is set to increase on August 1. Large employers will pay $8 an hour and small employers $6.50.  Additional increases will come in 2015 and 2016.

Jessica Looman,  an assistant commissioner with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, said the agency is making sure all employers understand their rights and obligations.

“We do a lot of work in terms of what we call outreach and education to really provide guidance, materials, training,” Looman said. “Our staff will be going out over the next several months, talking with different industry groups and putting out materials, just to really make sure that everyone understands what the laws say and how to comply with them.”

Looman said the department is hiring one additional labor investigator to work on minimum wage issues. In addition, she said lawmakers funded a temporary position that will focus on specific parts of WESA, including pregnancy and parenting leave, wage disclosure and nursing mother protections.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is working on other aspects of WESA, including familial status protection and equal pay certificates of compliance.