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.

  • Options for paid leave and financial assistance
  • Leave of absence regulations
    • Parental Leave Act
    • Family Medical Leave Act

Minnesota Paid Maternity Leave Laws

Minnesota does not have any laws directly mandating paid maternity or family leave. Most families must fend for themselves. Those that plan well and take proactive steps fare the best. The remainder may need to turn to banks for temporary funding.

Financial Assistance

Apply for a maternity leave loan. As you will quickly discover, Minnesota does not provide much in the way of financial assistance for new parents during maternity or family leave. You must repay the money you borrow with interest.

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.

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability in Minnesota allows for paid maternity and family leave benefits. This is not a state program. You must purchase a private policy at work prior to conception, or become sick or hurt. The policy will not cover preexisting medical conditions until 12-months after the effective date.

Unemployment Compensation

Unemployment compensation in Minnesota may provide paid maternity and family leave in very limited circumstances. MN statute 268.095 provides for benefits eligibility if you quit work because of a compelling family reason, which may include the following.

  1. An employee’s own illness or injury
  2. Care for the serious injury, illness, or disability of an immediate family member

This exception applies only if the employee provides notice, and the employer does not make reasonable accommodations. If you plan to return to work, you cannot collect benefits.

Minnesota Medical Leave of Absence Laws

Minnesota medical leave of absence laws provides for unpaid job protections. This means that you may be able to keep your job but will need to find alternative means to pay your bills while temporarily down at least one income.

The State Parental Leave Act and the Federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) are the two relevant laws providing an unpaid leave of absence from work.

Parental Leave Act of 2013

The primary labor law regarding maternity and family leave of absence is the Minnesota Parental Leave Act (MNPLA) of 2013. 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 contribute to coverage during this time. Therefore, expect a big jump in premium costs. This may create a hardship for many parents when combined with a loss of income.

Paid Sick Leave

The MN Parental Leave Act does not provide for paid family or sick leave of absence. Some provisions and related regulations and options may alleviate the pain.

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 can use sixteen hours of sick time to attend school activities, conferences, etc. They may also use accumulated vacation days for this purpose.

After returning to work, women have a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to express milk for her newborn at home.

Rights for Fathers

The MN Parental Leave Act applies to fathers. Men can take a leave of absence to care for a newborn or adoptive child. The law does not provide for paternity leave if dad needs to stop working to care for his expectant wife dealing with bed rest or pregnancy complications.

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.

FMLA 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 work site
Rights -12 weeks of unpaid job protection -6 weeks of unpaid job protection
Reasons -Birth, adoption, foster care,
employee’s own disability,
or sick family member
-Birth or adoption of the child only
Health Insurance -Continued on same
payment basis
-Employee pays the 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


As you can see from the chart above, teachers are more likely to qualify for job protections under the Minnesota law. Teachers working with smaller private schools are more likely to qualify, as the MN regulation loosens the employee size criteria. The teacher covered under both regulations may be able to extend leave by combining her own disability (FMLA) with the baby bonding time (MNPLA).

Small Business

Minnesota Employees working for small businesses may qualify for one or both sets of job-protected leave of absence laws. Small business employees working at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius qualify for FMLA. Small business employees working at a location with more than 21 employees, qualifies for MNPLA.