The Women’s Economic Security Act recently amended Minnesota’s employment law requirements for nursing mothers. See Minn. Stat. § 181.939. Here’s what employers need to know about the revised break time requirements for nursing mothers:
What Employers Are Subject To the Requirements: Any person or entity that employs one or more employees in Minnesota is subject to the law.
When Are Nursing Mother Entitled To Breaks? The law provides that an employer “must provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child.” If possible, the break time must “run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee.”
Do Nursing Mothers Need To Be Paid For the Breaks? No. The statute provides that the breaks are unpaid.
Where Should The Breaks Occur? The employer must make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, other than a bathroom or a toilet stall, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public and that includes access to an electrical outlet, where the employee can express her milk in privacy. The statute provides that an employer will “be held harmless if reasonable effort has been made.”
Are There Any Exceptions? Yes, an employer is not required to provide break time to a nursing mother if to do so would “unduly disrupt the operations of the employer.”
Are Nursing Mothers Protected From Retaliation For Taking Breaks? Yes, the law provides that an employer may not retaliate against an employee for asserting rights or remedies under Minnesota’s nursing mother law.
Takeaway: The revised Minnesota law governing breaks for nursing mothers is similar in many respects to the requirements for nursing mother breaks under federal law, but there are a few key differences. Employers in Minnesota need to be familiar with the requirements of both laws.