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Minnesota Law Affects Breastfeeding in the Workplace

Published in Birthing Services, Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Kim Welvaert, BSN, RN, RNC-MNN, CCRN, RNC-NIC, CLC, IBCLC, RLC| NICU Lactation RN

The No. 1 reason women never breastfeed or stop breastfeeding early is workplace challenges. The State of Minnesota hoped to address that issue when it extended protections for pregnant and lactating employees on July 1, 2023.

Minnesota law now states:

  • All nursing and lactating employees need to receive break times to express milk regardless of their children’s age without losing compensation.
  • Workplace lactation spaces need to be clean, private and secure.
  • All nursing and lactating employees have a right to break times to express milk regardless of whether the breaks unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.
  • 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.
  • Employers must notify all employees of the rights of pregnant and lactating employees when hired or when making an inquiry about or requesting parental leave. The information should be in an employee handbook, if one is provided. The notice must be in English and the primary language of the employee.
  • The Statutory List of reasonable pregnancy accommodations was expanded to include a temporary leave of absence, a modification to work schedule or job assignment and more frequent or longer breaks.
  • All employees, regardless of their employers’ 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.

It’s important to educate yourself and know your rights. Advocate for yourself and your family. Knowledge is power. I recommend you start when you become pregnant. Meet with your employer as soon as possible about your needs before and after baby is born. Keep an open line of communication.

When concerns/questions arise, look to your resources. The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry can assist if your employer is unsure about the updated laws. Their website provides more information about laws, pregnancy in the workplace, parental leave from work and expressing milk in the workplace.

Women are more likely to stay in their jobs long term if they can breastfeed at work. CentraCare is proud to support enhanced lactation policies within the workplace that benefit both Minnesota employees and employers!