On June 30, 2021, Governor Waltz provided approval to a series of statutes to amend the Omnibus Jobs and Economic Growth Finance and Policy Bill. Included within the amendments were updates to the Minnesota Nursing Mothers statute and the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA) pregnancy accommodation statute that provide clarification on pregnancy accommodation requirements and now prohibits employers from reducing compensation for employees taking lactation breaks.
Minnesota law previously only stated that an employee had a singular, unpaid lactation break during the workday. However, effective January 1, 2022, employers are now required to provide “reasonable break times each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for their infant child during the twelve months following the birth. Furthermore, the amendment explains that employers may not “reduce an employee’s compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk.” Meaning that, employees may now take multiple lactation breaks, if needed, and that the break time is now considered compensable time.
The two previous provisions regulating pregnancy accommodations and lactation breaks in Minnesota, have now been combined to create Minnesota Statute Section 181.939. Through the creation of this statute, it was determined that the number of employees required for the pregnancy accommodations law to take effect, would be reduced from 21 employees to 15 employees. Moreover, an employer is no longer able to require documentation to substantiate the need for an employee’s accommodation and they may not claim that an employee’s accommodation request would pose an undue hardship for any of the following reasons:
- Allowing for more frequent restroom, food, and water breaks;
- Providing seating; or
- Limiting lifting requirements over 20 pounds.
Next Steps for Employers
Employers are strongly encouraged to review their current policies and practices in order to ensure that they are providing the proper compensable time for those employees taking lactation breaks. Employers with 15 to 20 employees, should be especially mindful of their current accommodation procedures and ensure they are now providing accommodations in compliance with the legislation.