It's going to be more than two years before Minnesota's paid family and medical leave program is up and running, providing new parents paid time off to bond with their newborn child.
But Minnesota's DFL-led Legislature passed a slew of other changes last session for new or expecting parents, from job protections and unpaid leave requirements to lactating accommodations at work.
A handful of those changes took effect in July. Here's what you need to know:
Expanded nursing breaks
Last year, Minnesota became the third state to require businesses to provide paid breaks for workers to pump breast milk. DFL legislators expanded on the law this year, eliminating a requirement that the employer must have at least 15 employees. They also got rid of a 12-month timeframe in the original law, meaning employees can take paid breaks to express breast milk for a longer period of time. The updated law also prohibits employers from denying breaks to employees.
The new laws also require employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers with health conditions related to birth or pregnancy. That could mean a leave of absence from a strenuous position or moving someone to a different position temporarily. Employers must also consider other factors such as break times and seating accommodations.
Unpaid pregnancy leave
While workers wait for the new paid family and medical leave benefits to kick in, legislators expanded existing state law around pregnancy leave. The amended law requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for parents around the adoption or birth of a new child. The law change also eliminated a minimum employee requirement and extended the change to all employees, regardless of how long someone has worked at their job.
Legislators created new protections for employees returning from time off after their child is born. Employers must allow workers to return to their old job — or a comparable one — after a pregnancy-related leave, and they must maintain their schedule, rate of pay and any accrued benefits from the time they left. Under the new law, employees on a pregnancy-related leave can be laid off by their employer, but only if their position would have been eliminated regardless.
A pregnant Minnesotan who meets qualifications laid out under state law — and with the certification of a medical professional — can now apply for disability parking tags. Those permits are allowed for those who struggle to walk more than 200 feet without risk of falling or needing to rest.