Home Minnesota Educator Pregnant or nursing? Know your workplace rights

Pregnant or nursing? Know your workplace rights

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THIS INFORMATION WAS SUBMITTED BY THE MINNESOTA DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND INDUSTRY. Editor’s note: If you believe your employer is not complying with any of the rights discussed in this article, please contact your Education Minnesota field staff for assistance.

Returning to work after having a baby can be a challenging transition—especially for teachers who lack a traditional work environment.

But did you know you have workplace rights and protections that help you during and after a pregnancy? This includes the right to work safely during a pregnancy and to express milk on paid time when you return to work.

The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) is here to help workers and employers understand their workplace rights. We’ve created a webpage with resources such as a brochure and a video to help expectant and new parents know their rights, which can be found at dli.mn.gov/newparents.

DLI ensures compliance with wage and hour laws and enforces provisions of the state Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA), which was passed in 2014 to strengthen workplace protections for women, among other priorities.

WESA provisions include pregnancy accommodations, expressing milk at work and more. Here’s an overview of some of the protections under WESA.

If you are pregnant and work for an employer with 15 or more employees, it’s your right to request and your employer must provide more frequent restroom, food and water breaks, seating and limits on lifting more than 20 pounds. You do not need a doctor’s note to receive these accommodations.

In addition, if you decide to express milk at work, your employer must provide paid break time to express milk in a private area that is in close proximity to the work area and free from intrusion, among other requirements.

For many parents, continuing to breastfeed after returning to work can be difficult. The law offers protections for workers to promote breastfeeding among working parents.

Under WESA, an employer cannot reduce an employee’s compensation for time taken to express milk. While breaks must, where possible, 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.

DLI encourages workers and employers to review their workplace rights and responsibilities under the Women’s Economic Security Act. Visit dli.mn.gov/newparents to review DLI resources for expectant and new parents or contact DLI’s Labor Standards at dli.laborstandards@state.mn.us or 651-284-5075.

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