Legislation to enact a permanent work-from-home license or hybrid model for collection agencies passed in the state Senate and is now under consideration in the state House.
03/31/2022 12:00 P.M.
3 minute read
Permanent legislation to allow collection agencies licensed in Minnesota to continue allowing their staff to work from home or in a hybrid model is advancing through the state’s House and Senate after successful advocacy efforts of the Great Lakes Credit and Collections Association (GLCCA) in the last two years.
Currently, a temporary law from Minnesota’s 2021 session to allow licensed collectors to work from home—which started as a waiver from the Minnesota Department of Commerce during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency—is in effect through May 31, 2022.
“Over the past two years, countless Minnesotans have worked from home throughout the COVID pandemic, including third-party collection professionals,” said Michael Klutho, a shareholder at Bassford Remele in Minneapolis and past president of the GLCCA, in a letter to the Minnesota legislature. “During this time, collection professionals have demonstrated they are able to perform their duties remotely in a safe and compliant manner under the oversight of their employers—licensed third-party collection agencies—and the Minnesota Department of Commerce.”
The permanent legislation in the works in Minnesota, bills SF 2922 and HF 4048, would allow collection agencies to continue offering their employees the option to work in their physical office, in their homes under secure conditions, or under a hybrid structure—whatever best fits their business and employee needs, Klutho said.
“Absent this permanent change, our employees will lose the valuable flexibility they have had for the past two years,” he said.
SF 2922 passed out of the Minnesota Senate Commerce Committee on March 23 and is eligible for a full chamber vote; the Minnesota House version of the bill, HF 4808, has now passed out of the House Commerce Finance and Policy committee and is eligible for a full chamber vote.
“This bill will provide much-needed flexibility and timing is critical. The current allowance to permit remote work expires on May 31,” Klutho said in the letter. “Collection agencies are therefore facing uncertainty and are being forced to prepare for the worst-case scenario, despite two years of proven success allowing remote work. In short, unless SF 2922/HF 4048 is passed, all third-party collection employees will be forced to return to the office, regardless of whether it makes sense for their employer or their personal situations. Great Lakes Credit and Collection Association members respectfully ask the legislature to pass these bills quickly to avoid this unfortunate and negative impact.”
ACA International and GLCCA’s work on the bills dates back to 2019, when Minnesota’s Department of Commerce (DOC) invited the unit to weigh in on the DOC’s plan to bring debt buyers under its licensing statute and jurisdiction. GLCCA saw this as an opportunity to help craft some additional industry-helpful amendments, ACA previously reported.
“Given the ever-changing work environment and advances in technology, workplace flexibility has become a critical concern for both employers and employees. While we have hopefully seen the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has confirmed the value placed on remote work by our workforce,” Klutho said. “Without this option, third-party collection agencies will be competitively disadvantaged when seeking new workers. Likewise, collection agency employees will be at a disadvantage compared to their peers in similar industries. This bill will eliminate those disadvantages.
If the bill is approved and signed by the governor, it would take effect June 1, 2022.
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