Minnesota Capitol building exterior
The Minnesota State Capitol. (Photo courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society)

Minnesota’s frontline workers are now able to apply for their share of $500 million in “hero pay.” Employers, however, must take certain steps to comply with notification requirements. 

Gov. Tim Walz signed the Frontline Worker Pay Law in April, authorizing state-funded bonus payments to various frontline workers, including assisted living employees. Employers must post a notice about the program at each work site and provide a paper or electronic copy of the notice to all workers. The state has posted a fact sheet on the program.

Although state senior living associations have told McKnight’s Senior Living that they support the bonuses, they previously said that a more pressing issue is filling 23,000 caregiving positions open in assisted living communities and skilled nursing facilities across the state. 

The hero pay application window opened Wednesday, triggering employers’ 15-day notice obligations. Workers have 45 days to apply through the online application system of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. 

In addition to assisted living and other long-term care employees, eligible workers include workers in healthcare, emergency response, public health, courts and correction, child care, schools, food service, retail, temporary shelters, hotels, building services, public transit, ground and air transportation services, manufacturing and vocational rehabilitation. Potential recipients must have been employed between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

Approximately 667,000 frontline workers are eligible to receive payments, according to the state, which will determine who receives the bonus payments. If all eligible workers apply, then each will receive approximately $750. If fewer workers apply, then the pot will be split among those applicants, with each potentially receiving up to $1,500. 

The law also provides $2.7 billion to replenish the state’s unemployment trust fund, preventing a tax increase on small businesses.

The Minnesota Senate recently passed a comprehensive health and human services reform bill to address the state’s long-term care workforce issues. The legislation includes a $1 billion surplus priority to increase rates for the long-term care, personal care and disability waiver rate service industries. That amount is in addition to the $322 million rescue package introduced earlier this year to address the staffing challenges in such facilities.