You’ve just found out the exciting news – you’re pregnant! While it’s an amazing time, it also raises a lot of questions, especially around your rights and responsibilities at work. As an employee in Minnesota who is pregnant or a new parent, you have important Minnesota pregnancy leave rights. Here are the top 5 things you should do when you find out you are pregnant:
- Know Your Rights
One of the first things to do is educate yourself on your rights under Minnesota law. The brochure covers key protections including: the right to reasonable accommodations for your pregnancy, the ability to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid parental leave, and the right to pump breast milk at work. Read through these carefully so you understand what your employer is required to provide. You have protections regardless of the size of your company or how long you’ve worked there.
- Start the Conversation Early
Don’t wait to have the conversation with your employer or supervisor. Give them advance notice – ideally before you start showing or need accommodations. That gives them time to make any necessary preparations and allows you both to plan ahead. Bringing the topic up early and framing it as a collaborative process sets a positive tone.
- Make Your Needs Clear
When talking to your employer, be direct about what you need to be healthy and successful at work. For example, request specific accommodations like more frequent breaks, seating, or lifting assistance. If your provider recommends it, ask for reassignment to less strenuous tasks. Speak up about the space and time you’ll need for pumping when you return from leave. Being clear and upfront removes guesswork.
- Get Any Agreements in Writing
After talking through your needs and rights with your employer, get any agreements in writing. Follow up your discussion with an email summarizing everything you talked about, including details like: start dates, expected leave length, accommodations provided, etc. Documenting these details protects you and your employer by preventing confusion down the road.
- Seek Help If Needed
Most employers will gladly work with pregnant employees to ensure they have what they need. However, if your employer pushes back on your lawful rights, seek help. Contact the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to get information or file a complaint. You can also bring an advocate with you when you have discussions with your employer. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.
In addition to rights during pregnancy and leave, new parents in Minnesota have important rights when they return to work after the birth or adoption of a child. Under state law, employers must provide reasonable break times and private space for employees to express breast milk at work. This applies regardless of company size and length of employment. New parents cannot have their compensation reduced or be required to make up time spent pumping. Understanding these protections allows new moms to feel comfortable continuing to breastfeed upon returning to their job. All new parent employees should know their rights and not hesitate to speak up if their needs are not being met when they come back to work.
Finding out you’re pregnant is an exciting milestone! Following these tips will help you navigate your workplace rights and responsibilities during this special time. Feel free to reach out to our employment attorneys for a no obligation consultation if you need it. And above all, remember to enjoy this journey and take care of yourself and your growing baby!