Minnesota expands workplace protections for new, expectant mothers
St. Paul, MN — An amendment to Minnesota law recently signed by Gov. Tim Walz (D) will strengthen workplace protections and offer flexibility for new and expectant mothers, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has announced.
Set to go into effect Jan. 1, the amendment bars unpaid breaks for workers who are nursing or lactating and provides additional accommodations – including frequent restroom, food and water breaks – for those who are pregnant. The amendment, which applies to employers with 15 or more workers, is included in the state’s omnibus jobs and economic growth finance and policy bill (S.F. 9) – signed into law by Walz on June 30.
According to an Aug. 11 press release, covered employers must provide reasonable break times for workers who need to express breast milk during the 12 months after giving birth. Additionally, reasonable efforts must be made to make available a private room or other location for workers who are nursing/lactating that is in close proximity to the work area and includes access to an electrical outlet. The changes don’t require current unpaid break time, such as meal breaks, to be converted to paid break time.
When the amendment goes into effect, Minnesota DLI estimates that 27,000 additional workers in the state will be able to request and receive pregnancy accommodations, such as limits on lifting more than 20 pounds, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, different seating, and frequent restroom breaks.
“No one should have to choose between their jobs and their family,” Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said in the release. “It makes a huge difference to have paid breaks to support breastfeeding and pregnancy accommodations that start on your very first day.”