Maternity and Paternity Leave in Minnesota: FMLA Laws

How long does maternity leave last in Minnesota, and how much money do you get? Do the same rules hold for fathers and teachers?

The correct response could be vastly different for each person.

Some lucky parents could have 3, 6, 8, or 12 weeks of paid leave benefits that replace a portion or all of their income, while others get nothing.

Some fortunate mothers and fathers have 12 weeks of legal job and health insurance protections, while others must fend for themselves.

Finally, some parents needing to provide care for a premature or low-weight birth infant might have an additional 12 weeks of unpaid time off.

Paid Maternity Leave in MN

Paid maternity leave does exist in Minnesota – just not for everyone. Many government workers enjoy partial income replacement supported by taxpayers in the private sector who frequently take time off without pay.

Oh, the irony and value of union negotiators!

Maternity Leave Assistance

Maternity leave assistance is the primary alternative for Minnesota parents who work in the private sector without paid parental leave benefits. However, you are unlikely to find support for lost wages.

Instead, two sets of programs could provide help paying bills.

Federal Government

Federal government assistance during maternity leave provides help with bill payment for low-income families. Lost wages while at home could make you eligible for some of these benefits.

  • Food Stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance)
  • Women Infants & Children (WIC)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Subsidies to lower premium costs of healthcare

State Government

The At-Home Infant Care Program is a Minnesota state government initiative that assists income-qualifying parents after a newborn baby’s birth. A household is eligible if one parent provides full-time care for the infant.

The monetary assistance may last for as long as one year.

Single Mothers

Financial assistance for single mothers in Minnesota can extend beyond maternity leave concerns. Unpaid time off from work can make money problems worse when you must care for an infant by yourself.

Single moms-to-be can tap into other resources.

  • Emergency cash
  • Car repair programs
  • College scholarships and grants
  • Transitional housing

Short-Term Disability

Short-term disability in Minnesota allows for partial (66%) paid maternity leave benefits for proactive mothers working in the private and public sectors. However, this is not a state-mandated program.

Unfortunately, many women miss the window of opportunity for partial wage replacement because you must purchase a policy before conception to qualify for benefits.

The proactive mothers with coverage in force can file claims in these situations.

  1. When pregnancy complications cause lost work before her due date
  2. While recovering from labor and delivery (childbirth)
    1. 8 weeks for a vaginal birth
    1. 12 weeks for C-section
  3. If postpartum medical disorders delay a return to work

Filing Unemployment

Unemployment compensation during maternity leave is not a viable avenue for income benefits in Minnesota. However, things might change after an extended delay and in limited circumstances.

First, you are ineligible to file an unemployment claim while away from work temporarily because you may run afoul of at least one of these criteria.

  • Still have a job under FMLA or MPLA
  • Physically unable to work due to disability
  • Unavailable to work while caring for an infant

Second, you could qualify for unemployment after you recover from childbirth and find childcare for your newborn. MN statute 268.095 grants eligibility if you quit because of a compelling family reason, which may include the following.

  • An employee’s illness or injury
  • Care of an immediate family member with a severe medical condition

Bill HF5

The Minnesota House of Representatives passed Bill HF5, which would provide paid maternity leave benefits to private industry workers. However, the Senate had yet to take up the bill as of this article’s publication date.

If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, HF5 would provide twelve weeks of wage support for pregnancy, baby bonding, and a sick family member’s care.

Government Employees

Many government employees in Minnesota already enjoy paid maternity leave courtesy of taxpayers working in the private sector who do not have the same benefit for themselves.


Minnesota state government employees enjoy six consecutive weeks of paid parental leave following the birth of a child and placement in the home for adoption or to “adjudicate parentage in cases of surrogacy when the employee is the intended parent.”

Eligible workers include executive branch personnel, teachers, and members of the state employee retirement systems.


Specific categories of civilian federal government employees working in Minnesota qualify for benefits under the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (FEPLA). FEPLA provides up to twelve weeks of wage replacement in connection with the birth or placement of a child.


Minneapolis municipal employees enjoy paid maternity leave. The city provides up to three weeks (120 hours) of wage support to eligible workers following the birth, placement for adoption, or adoption of a child.

Minnesota Parental Leave Act vs. FMLA

It is essential to compare the Minnesota Parental Leave Act (MNPLA) to the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to determine whether two critical legal rights last twenty-four, twelve, or zero weeks.

  • Continuation of healthcare benefits as if still working
  • Job-protected unpaid time off for qualified reasons

Keep in mind; parents have no legal rights during their time away if they work for a non-covered employer, fail to meet employee criteria, or do not have a qualifying reason under either law.

Time with employer12 months12 months
Hours worked1,250 in the last 12 monthsAt least half-time
Covered employers50 or more employees within 75 miles of a location21 or more employees at any single location
Maternity LeaveYesYes
Non-pregnancy DisabilityYesNo
Care of Sick Family MemberYesNo

Parental Leave Act

The Minnesota Parental Leave Act (MNPLA) covers more employers and workers compared to the federal FMLA, extending legal rights to two groups of new parents.

  1. Some workers at small businesses might go from zero to twelve weeks of unpaid job and healthcare protections
    1. FMLA: 50 + employees
    1. MNPLA: 21 + employees
  2. A small group of part-time workers might go from zero to twelve weeks of unpaid time off, assuming 30 hours is full time
    1. FMLA: 24 hours per week +
    1. MNPLA: 15 hours per week +

Family Medical Leave Act

The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) covers more situations than the MNPLA, extending legal rights for perhaps an additional twelve weeks of unpaid time off under several common parenting scenarios.

Some parents might be able to take twenty-four weeks of combined unpaid time off because FMLA covers the care of sick family members while MNPLA does not. The two laws can apply consecutively rather than concurrently in these situations.

  • Husbands caring for wives dealing with pregnancy complications
  • Premature and low-birth-weight infants needing care at home

Parents working for small businesses or logging part-time hours may have zero weeks of unpaid time off if they commute out-of-state because FMLA applies nationwide, while MNPLA does not.

  • North Dakota
  • South Dakota
  • Wisconsin
  • Iowa

Paternity Leave

Combine the lessons covered above to determine how paternity leave might work for Minnesota fathers. Your place of employment, eligibility, and circumstances combine to define legal rights for dads.

  • Paid paternity time off is available to fathers working for government agencies, but they cannot use short-term disability because they remain able to work
  • Twelve weeks of job, and insurance protections apply to dads working at least halftime for small businesses with twenty-one or more employees
  • An additional twelve weeks of unpaid time off is available to some fathers who must care for their wife or infant with a severe medical condition

MN Teachers

In the same manner, combine the lessons covered above to determine how maternity leave might work for Minnesota teachers – with one added twist – they have at least twelve weeks of unpaid time off regardless of school size.

  • Educators in public school systems are eligible for wage support as members of the Teachers Retirement System
  • Teachers may have access to voluntary short-term disability, which provides partial income replacement if you enroll before conception
  • FMLA extends legal rights to instructional personnel working in elementary and secondary schools, including private entities
    • Any local educational agency, regardless of the number of employees
    • Special rules that apply near the end of any academic term