The end of the 2023 legislative session brings a plethora of statutory amendments and enactments that will have wide ranging impact on schools. While these changes affect many policies and procedures, public schools should immediately review and adjust their employment practices as the laws set forth below will require compliance before the start of the 2023-2024 school year.


Shortened Teacher Probationary Periods

As of August 1, 2023, the number of days a teacher must serve toward the probationary period will be reduced from 120 days to 90 days and the probationary period of teachers in special school districts will be modified to be consistent with that of independent school districts. The probationary period for charter school and out of state teachers also will be modified so that they are provided credit for years taught in the charter or out-of-state school. These changes will shorten the amount of time administration has to evaluate staff. The ability to contractually extend the probationary period also may be more subject to challenge. If probationary teachers in your schools are struggling, nonrenewals should be addressed before July 1.


Overhaul of Collective Bargaining

Three major changes will impact negotiations at the bargaining table for all contracts and, in particular, teacher contracts. First, as of July 1, 2023, Pre-K, Early Learning and ABE teachers, will gain continuing contract rights and may seek to be included in the teacher collective bargaining agreement, if not already included. Regardless of the designated bargaining unit, the rights of these teachers related to seniority, unrequested leave of absence (“ULA”) and termination, at a minimum, will need to be addressed. Second, beginning August 1, 2023, although they will not have the right to accrue continuing contract status, Tier 1 teachers will be considered “public employees” and eligible for inclusion in the teacher bargaining unit. Third, also effective August 1, 2023, public schools will be required to bargain on terms and conditions of employment that once were non-negotiable, including e-learning, class size, student testing and student-to-personnel ratios. School districts are not required to accept union proposals on these terms but are required to bargain in good faith if the issue is brought to the bargaining table.


Unemployment Eligibility, Earned Safe and Sick Time and Paid Family and Medical Leave

Several bills were passed that will afford employees greater rights to paid leave. Effective May 28, 2023, hourly school employees will be eligible for unemployment during the summer months regardless of whether other benefits are extended to them based on their regular employment during the school year. The Earned Safe and Sick Time (“SST”) Act will go into effect on January 1, 2024, and will require schools to afford all employees, including exempt employees, with one hour of paid SST leave for every 30 hours worked (capped at 48 hours per year but with permitted carryover of 80 hours) to be accrued on the first date of employment. SST leave may be used for the employee’s or the employee’s family member’s illness, injury diagnosis, treatment or preventative medical care, medical attention or relocation or legal advice/action related to domestic abuse, sexual assault or stalking, weather related school/daycare closures, and the inability to work or telework due to communicable illness. The Minnesota Paid Family and Medical Leave Act will take effect in stages over the next three years. The Act provides for a minimum of 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for the employee’s serious health condition or pregnancy, bonding, safety leave, family care or other qualifying exigencies. Leave will be funded through premiums payable by employers to the Department of Employment and Economic Development (“DEED”). Schools may be able to reduce the cost of theses premiums by either contracting with an approved private plan or passing on to employees the cost of up to 50% of the premiums through payroll deductions. Employees will be able to apply to DEED for a paid FMLA leave as of November 1, 2025. All of these changes will require a major overhaul for most school payroll departments, budgets and leave policies as well as obligating schools to modify and negotiate over conflicting provisions of applicable collective bargaining agreements related to these benefits during present and future contract negotiations.


Legalization of Recreational Cannabis

Recreational cannabis will be legal for adult use in Minnesota as of July 1, 2023. Marijuana, THC, “cannabis products” and “hemp-derived consumer products” no longer will be defined as a drug under state law (although these products remain controlled substances under federal law). Schools, however, can continue to prohibit their employees from being under the influence of “cannabis and its metabolites” while on duty, test employees for these substances, and prohibit these substances on school grounds. Testing protocols and policies will require modification to address the changed definition as to what constitutes a drug and new testing requirements for cannabis. Employers, including schools, will not be permitted to refuse to hire, discipline or discharge an individual who engages in or has engaged in the use of these products during non-work hours.


These laws are but a few that will be impacting schools and will require significant changes this upcoming school year. Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney attorneys have extensive expertise in addressing these employment issues. If you have any questions or require assistance in navigating any of these changes, we are here to provide guidance tailored to your specific needs. We can be reached at (612) 339-0060 or