Layoff Notices went out to most state employees. Governor Walz has communicated with employees that he hopes the general broad deal reached with House and Senate leadership will lead to a detailed budget agreement which needs to be passed into law before June 30, 2021. A special session is set to begin June 14th.
Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) asked unions to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that acknowledges layoff if a budget bill is not passed and modifies union contracts pertaining to insurance, bumping, layoff notices, and other terms related to layoffs. At the heart of the MOA is employees accept the layoff and the employer promises to continue their health insurance. It did not address backpay, use of vacation to get paid for days laid off or unemployment income. MGEC didn’t agree to layoffs or the MOA. Consequently, should the layoff occur, MGEC will grieve the action based on the claim that the State’s action amounts to a “lock out” in violation of the agreement. There is not precedent for this agreement. MGEC believes it’s important that a ruling by an arbitrator or the courts be made so that elected officials no longer layoff employees without providing backpay. When federal employees are laid off, legislation is written to provide them with backpay when an agreement is reached. The same should happen in Minnesota. In the meantime, the following provisions of the MGEC agreement address some of the concerns of employees.
Article 18 – Insurance.
Section 3. Eligibility for Employer Contribution. C. Special Eligibility 2. Employees on Layoff. A classified employee who receives an Employer Contribution, who has three (3) or more years of continuous service, and who has been permanently or seasonally laid off, remains eligible for an Employer Contribution and all other benefits provided under this Article for an extended eligibility period of six (6) months from the date of layoff.
Section 3. Eligibility for Employer Contribution. 4. Permanent Layoff. The calculation in determining the six (6) month duration of eligibility for an employer contribution begins on the date the employee is permanently laid off or accepts an appointment in lieu of layoff without a break in service with a lesser employer-paid insurance contribution than the employee was receiving in the appointment from which the layoff occurred and is no longer actively employed in the appointment from which the layoff occurred. In the event the employee, while on permanent or seasonal layoff, is rehired to any state job classification with a lesser employer-paid insurance contribution than the MGEC Labor Agreement 2019-2021 | 48 employee is receiving under the six (6) months of insurance continuation, the employee shall continue to receive the employer contribution toward the employer-paid insurance for the duration of the six (6) months. However, notwithstanding the paragraph above, in the event the employee successfully claims another state job in any agency and classification which is insurance eligible without a break in service, and is subsequently non-certified or involuntarily separated, the six (6) month duration for the employer contribution toward insurance benefits will begin at the time the employee is non-certified or otherwise involuntarily separated and is no longer actively employed by the Employer. In no event shall an extended benefit eligibility period be longer than a total of six (6) months. Further, an employee must be receiving an Employer Contribution under Section 3 (A) or (B) at the time of layoff in order to be eligible for the six (6) months continuation of insurance.
Section 7. Optional Coverages. F. Continuation of Optional Coverages During Unpaid Leave or Layoff. An employee who takes an unpaid leave of absence or who is laid off may discontinue premium payments on optional policies during the period of leave or layoff. If the employee returns within one (1) year, the employee shall be permitted to pick up all optionals held prior to the leave or layoff. For purposes of reinstating such optional coverages, the following limitations shall be applicable. For the first twenty-four (24) months of long-term disability coverage after such a period of leave or layoff during which long-term disability coverage was discontinued, any such disability coverage shall exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. For disability purposes, a pre-existing condition is defined as any disability which is caused by, or results from, any injury, sickness or pregnancy which occurred, was diagnosed, or for which medical care was received during the period of leave or layoff. In addition, any pre-existing condition limitations that would have been in effect under the policy but for the discontinuance of coverage shall continue to apply as provided in the policy. The limitations set forth above do not apply to leaves that qualify under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA