In 2021, Gov. Tim Walz signed into state law legislation that expands provisions of the Women’s Economic Security Act, a nine-part law passed in 2014 that was intended to break down barriers for women in the workplace.
More Minnesota workers will soon be able to request and receive pregnancy accommodations and receive paid breaks to express milk in the workplace due to an expanded law that strengthens workplace protections for expectant and new parents.
These changes will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022 and include the following:
- An employer will not be able to reduce an employee’s compensation for time used for expressing milk. The change does not require unpaid break times such as a meal break to be converted to paid break time.
- Ensuring more employees have a right to request and receive needed pregnancy accommodations in the workplace, such as more frequent restroom, food and water breaks and limits to heavy lifting. This change also reduces the employer size requirement from 21 employees at one location to 15 or more employees per employer.
- Employees will now become immediately eligible for pregnancy accommodations upon hire with an employer. In a recent case, Hinrichs-Cady v. Hennepin County, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the existing requirement that workers had to be employed for a year before seeking a parental leave did not apply to pregnant employees seeking on-the-job accommodations. As a result, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry considers this change to be effective now.
Employers should use this change as an opportunity to ensure compliance with pregnancy accommodations. Employee agreements and company handbooks should be updated to reflect the new changes as well, including revisions to parental leave and nursing mother policies. Employers should also train their supervisors on this new law to make sure that the time-off policies are being applied correctly.
If you have any questions or concerns about these new changes, or would like to discuss ways to review and evaluate your current employment practices, please contact Kristy A. Fahland, (612) 672-3795 or Toni Ojoyeyi, (612) 672-3730.
Messerli & Kramer’s experienced employment law attorneys are available to assist employers in navigating a variety of employment law issues and would be honored to help you.
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