Paid family and medical leave gains final passage in Legislature, awaits Walz’s signature

The Minnesota Legislature passed the final version of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act, which now heads to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk for approval. The Democratic governor has indicated he will sign the bill.

The bill gives Minnesota workers up to 12 weeks of paid time off for a serious medical condition or pregnancy or to care for a family member. Individuals can claim a maximum of 20 weeks of paid leave in a single year.

It received a party-line 68-62 vote Wednesday in the House, with all Republican representatives voting against it. On Thursday, the Senate followed suit, approving the bill 34-32.

“At the core of this bill, we are reinforcing humanity for Minnesota workers,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson, DFL-Mendota Heights, the bill’s chief author. “Creating a statewide family and medical leave safety net for families and workers is critical for our overall workforce development, retention, and economy.”

Republicans have opposed the measure, arguing it burdens employers with a new tax and that many workplaces already offer their own version of long-term paid leave.

The program will be funded through a 0.7% payroll tax for employers participating in both the family and medical benefits and will be disbursed through a new division of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. A one-time $668 million infusion would get the program off the ground until the payroll tax can sustain it long-term.

If the bill is signed into law, benefits will be available starting Jan. 1, 2026.

Employers have the option to apply for a private plan as long as it provides all the same benefits as the state-managed paid leave program.