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.

Required employee notice:  EnglishChinese/简体中文EspañolHmoobSoomaali and Vietnamese

Employers must 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.

Nursing Mothers, Lactating Employees, and Pregnancy Accommodations Employee Notice

Minnesota’s Nursing Mothers, Lactating Employees, and Pregnancy Accommodations law (Minnesota Statutes § 181.939) gives pregnant and lactating employees certain legal rights.

Pregnant employees have the right to request and receive reasonable accommodations, which may include, but are not limited to, more frequent or longer breaks, seating, limits to heavy lifting, temporary transfer to another position, temporary leave of absence, or modification in work schedule or tasks. An employer cannot require an employee to take leave or accept an accommodation.

Lactating employees have the right to reasonable paid break times to express milk at work unless they are expressing milk during a break that is not usually paid, such as a meal break. Employers should provide a clean, private, and secure room that is not a bathroom near the work area that includes access to an electrical outlet for employees to express milk.

It is against the law for an employer to retaliate or take negative action against a pregnant or lactating employee for exercising their rights under this law.

Employees who believe their rights have been violated under this law can contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s Labor Standards Division at [email protected] or 651-284-5075 for help. Employees also have the right to file a civil lawsuit for relief. For more information about this law, visit dli.mn.gov/newparents.

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;
  • seating; and
  • 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.

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:  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.

2. Pregnancy and parental leave

By law, you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during or following pregnancy. Minnesota’s Paid 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:

  • prenatal care;
  • 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.

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:  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.

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 regardless of whether the break unduly disrupts the operations of the employer; 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.

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.

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:  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.

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.