Pregnant workers and new parents
Are you pregnant or a new parent?
In Minnesota, you have legal protections to help keep you safe and healthy in the workplace. If you have questions, ask your employer or contact us. Most employers are willing to comply with laws that support their pregnant and lactating employees. If they are unwilling, we can help you.
Law changes -- View required employee notice: English, Chinese/简体中文, Español, Hmoob, Soomaali and Vietnamese
Effective July 1, 2023, workplace protections for expectant and new parents were expanded. Changes include:
Requiring all nursing and lactating employees receive break times to express milk regardless of their child’s age without losing compensation.
Requiring workplace lactation spaces be clean, private and secure.
Ensuring all nursing and lactating employees have a right to break times to express milk regardless of whether providing the breaks unduly disrupts the operations of the employer
Ensuring employees can choose when to express milk based on their needs, whether that means expressing milk during an existing paid break, during an existing unpaid break, such as a meal break, or during some other time.
Requiring employers notify all employees of the rights of pregnant and lactating employees when hired, when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave and in an employee handbook if one is provided. The notice must be provided in English and the primary language of the employee. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) makes the required notice language available for employers in English and the five most common languages spoken in Minnesota.
Expanding the statutory list of example reasonable pregnancy accommodations to include a temporary leave of absence, a modification to work schedule or job assignment and more frequent or longer breaks.
Ensuring all employees, regardless of their employer’s size or amount of time for which they have worked for their employer, have a right to pregnancy accommodations and up to 12 weeks of unpaid pregnancy and parental leave.
1. Pregnancy at work
Staying healthy at work is important when you’re pregnant, both for you and your baby. If you are pregnant, it’s your right to request, and your employer must provide:
more frequent or longer restroom, food and water breaks;
limits on lifting more than 20 pounds.
You have the right to request other workplace changes when you have been given advice from a health care provider or doula. This may require you to have a conversation with your employer about your request.
Other changes may include temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous job, modification in work schedule or tasks or a temporary leave of absence. There may be limited exceptions when your employer would not be required to provide these workplace changes; however, upon request, your employer is always required to provide more frequent or longer breaks, seating and limits on lifting more than 20 pounds.
2. Pregnancy or parental leave from work
By law, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during or following pregnancy. Minnesota’s paid family and medical leave law, which provides paid time off during or following a pregnancy, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2026.
Pregnancy and parental leave may be taken for:
incapacity due to pregnancy or related health conditions;
childbirth or adoption; or
bonding time by a birthing or non-birthing parent after the birth or adoption of the child.
You may also be able to use employer-provided benefits, such as sick leave or disability leave, if you are sick during pregnancy or to recover after childbirth.
3. Expressing milk at work
Breastfeeding improves well-being and reduces health care costs. If you decide to express milk at work, your employer must provide:
break time to express milk without you losing compensation; and
a clean, private and secure area to express milk that is not a bathroom, is shielded from view, is free of intrusion from coworkers and the public, is in close proximity to the work area, and has access to an electrical outlet.
There may be limited exceptions to these employer requirements.
Informing your employer
Need support in talking with your employer? Follow these tips.
Don’t wait. Begin the conversation early to help yourself and your employer.
Be positive. Approach the news as a win-win for both you and your employer.
Speak up. It’s OK to tell your employer your needs and rights.
Bring a coworker. You may want to consider bringing a coworker to join the discussion about your needs and rights.
Be informed. Share this website with your employer, human resources manager, coworkers or workplace advocates.
Know your rights. An employer may not retaliate, or take negative action, against an employee for asserting their legal rights.
If you have concerns about speaking directly with your employer, contact us for help.
Frequently asked questions
Still have questions? Check out these frequently asked questions and answers.
Q: Am I required to give a notice to my employees of their rights under the Nursing Mothers, Lactating Employees, and Pregnancy Accommodations law?
A: Yes, all employers must provide a notice of these rights when they hire an employee and when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave. If you have an employee handbook, you must include the notice in the handbook.
Q: Are employees who take pregnancy and parental leave entitled to the same job after returning from leave?
A: Yes, employees are entitled to return to their former positions or to positions of comparable duties, number of hours and pay.
Q: Do the pregnancy accommodation requirements apply to all employers?
A: Yes, employees have a right to reasonable pregnancy accommodations regardless of the size of the employer, with limited exceptions.
Q: Can an employer require an employee to make up time for breaks taken to express milk at work?
A: No, an employer cannot reduce an employee’s compensation for time taken to express milk. While breaks to express milk may run concurrently with breaks already provided, including existing unpaid breaks, employers can’t reduce an employee's pay or require an employee to make up time used to express milk.
Q: Does my workplace have to be a certain size to comply with the Nursing Mothers, Lactating Employees, and Pregnancy Accommodations law?
A: No, the size of the employer does not matter. Even if you are the only employee, your employer is required to comply with this law.
Q: Can an employer require an employee to use paid leave benefits such as sick time, vacation or paid time off for time used to express milk?
A: No, an employer may not reduce an employee's compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk. Compensation includes earned or accrued leave benefits.
Q: Who should employees call if they believe they are being discriminated against because they are pregnant?
A: An employee who believes their employer has discriminated against them because they are pregnant may contact the Minnesota Department of Human Rights for possible pregnancy or sexual discrimination claims by visiting mn.gov/mdhr or calling 651-539-1100 or 800-657-3704.
Q: Who should employees call if they believe they qualify for leave but are not being allowed to take the leave?
A: Employees who believe they are entitled to leave but are not receiving the leave should contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry's Labor Standards Division at 651-284-5075 or 800-342-5354 to get more information about whether they qualify or to make a complaint.
Q: What is the best way to ensure my company is abiding by the laws under the Women's Economic Security Act (WESA)?
A: It is a good idea to update employee handbooks to reflect all changes in the law since the enactment of WESA. Questions? Read more frequently asked questions or contact DLI's Labor Standards Division at 651-284-5075 or 800-342-5354.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division oversees federal requirements for employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express milk.
The Minnesota Department of Health’s Breastfeeding Friendly Recognition Program helps employers establish compliant workplace lactation practices.
WESA annual report (December 2023).
if you have questions or need more information; and
if your employer is unwilling to comply with the law.
We’re here to help you — and to protect your rights! Contact DLI’s Labor Standards Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-284-5075.