Starting on January 1, 2022, many employers in Minnesota will have to re-examine their policies regarding expecting and new parents. In 2021, the Minnesota Legislature passed amendments to the state’s nursing mothers statute, Minn.Stat. § 181.939, and the Women’s Economic Security Act pregnancy accommodations statute, Minn. Stat. § 181.9494. The first change alters the requirements for providing lactation breaks while the second change requires more employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.
Beginning in the new year, employers will be required to provide multiple, reasonable break times to new mothers each day to express milk. In addition, employers can no longer reduce an employee’s pay for these breaks, whereas before, these breaks could be unpaid. However, there are three notable limitations to this rule. First, these requirements are limited to the first twelve months after the employee gives birth. Second, the employer is not required to provide breaks if doing so would “unduly disrupt the operation of the employer.” And third, the employer can request that the employee take expression breaks during already scheduled break times, including lunch hours, so long as the overall pay is not reduced. Notably, these requirements apply to all employers regardless of size, so even small organizations must comply with the new law.
In addition, organizations with fifteen employees or more will now be required to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, where before, only those with thirty or more employees were required to do so. These accommodations include allowing pregnant employees to take more frequent bathroom breaks, giving them more opportunities to eat and drink, providing seating to pregnant employees who otherwise would stand up, and allowing for limits on lifting more than twenty pounds.
Employers should take the new year as a reminder to review their policies regarding expecting and new parents as well as in other areas. The attorneys at Smith Jadin Johnson can assist you in crafting new policies and ensuring compliance.