Minnesota labor laws regarding maternity leave consist of three state based regulations along with a familiar federal statute. This collection of rules provides extra rights to parents taking leave.
The regulations work differently in terms of who is covered, and how the laws work. The statutes may combine to provide 18 weeks of job protection benefits when mom experiences complications before delivery.
- Paid leave options
- Short term disability
- Collecting unemployment
- MN Parental Leave Act
- Versus FMLA
MN Paid Maternity Leave
Minnesota labor laws do not directly specify paid maternity leave benefits. But several options may be available in certain circumstances: short term disability, and collecting unemployment.
Short Term Disability
An employee’s own serious medical condition may be covered by supplemental short term disability. If you purchased short term disability prior to getting pregnant, or your employer pays for a group policy you need to file a claim form to begin receiving maternity pay benefits.
Collecting unemployment compensation is sometimes feasible during maternity leave. MN statute 268.095 provides for benefits eligibility if you quit work due to an employee’s own illness or injury, or to care for the serious injury, illness, or disability of an immediate family member. This exception applies only if the employee provides notice, and reasonable accommodations are not made by the employer.
Minnesota Parental Leave Act
The primary Minnesota labor law regarding maternity leave is the Parental Leave Act. This state-based maternity leave regulation has four main provisions for parents: covered reasons, calculating start dates, retribution, and access to health insurance.
1 - Covered Reasons: The statute allows male and female employees to take up to six weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn baby, or an adoptive child. Foster children are not included in the regulation.
2 - Calculating Start Dates: The job protected leave must begin within six weeks of when a newborn is discharged from the hospital, or at the birth or adoption of the child. The employee determines when leave begins.
3 - Retribution: Employers may not retaliate against any employee requesting leave. When returning to work you are entitled to the same or similar position, with equivalent hours, pay scale, and benefits.
4 - Access to Health Insurance: Employers must continue to make group health policies available to employees while on job protected leave. Employers are not required to make any contributions to coverage during this time, so expect a big jump in premium costs. This may create a hardship for many parents when combined with a loss of income.
Use of Sick Days
The MN Parental Leave Act does not provide for paid family leave. There are some provisions and related regulations and options that may remove some of the sting.
You are allowed to use accumulated sick days to care for a family member with an illness provided you work at least half of the equivalent for a full time worker. Every employee is also allowed to use sixteen hours of sick time to attend school activities, conferences, etc. Accumulated vacation days may also be used for this purpose.
After returning to work, women are allowed a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to express milk for her newborn at home.
Rights for Fathers
The regulation is entitled “parental leave” which means that fathers are eligible for the job protection rights. Men can take leave to care for a newborn or adoptive child.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
It is important to compare the MN Parental Leave Act versus FMLA. The state and federal maternity leave regulations overlap in many areas, but contain some keys points of differentiation which are summarized in the table below.
MN Parental Leave Act
|Employee Eligibility||-1,250 hours within 12 months.||-Employed 12 months and working
50% of the full time equivalent hours
|Employer Eligibility||-50 or more employees
within 75 miles of worksite
|-21 or more employees
at any single worksite
|Rights||-12 weeks of unpaid job protection||-6 weeks of unpaid job protection|
|Reasons||-Birth, adoption, foster care,
employees own disability,
or sick family member
|-Birth or adoption of child only|
|Health Insurance||-Continued on same
|-Employee pays full premium|
The key difference relates to an employee’s own disability. It is very common for working women to take time from work prior to delivery for bed rest. Medical complications of pregnancy occur 25% of the time, so this happens quite frequently. Because the two provisions are mutually exclusive, the two acts work together to lengthen the amount of job protected time:
- 12 weeks of FMLA during pregnancy complications prior to delivery
- Followed by 6 weeks of MN Parental Leave to care for a newborn
Home Infant Care
The MN At Home Infant Care Program assists income qualifying parents after the birth of an infant. A family is eligible if one parent provides full-time care of the infant. Assistance may last for as long as one year.