District 51A Rep. Sandra Masin (DFL) has cast her support behind a proposal that—if approved—would require employers to grant as much as 12 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave to female employees.
The new law, HF 463, was introduced on Feb. 11 in the House and referred to the Labor, Workplace and Regulated Industries Committee. The bill's author is District 60B Rep. Phyllis Kahn (DFL), but more than a dozen legislators, including Masin, have signed on as co-authors of the proposal.
Under the bill’s provisions, an employer must grant an unpaid leave of absence to a female employee undergoing pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions for a reasonable period of time. The length of the leave is determined by the employee, but cannot exceed 12 weeks unless agreed upon by employer.
Employers are also required to provide "reasonable accommodation" for an employee for conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth or related issues, according to the proposal.
As outlined in the bill, reasonable accommodation includes seating, frequent restroom breaks and limits to heavy lifting. Employers are also required to transfer temporarily an employee to a less strenuous position for the duration of her pregnancy if she asks for it.
Current Minnesota standards require employers to give parents a maximum of six weeks of unpaid parental leave following the birth of a child, provided the company employs 21 or more employees.
But the law says little about pregnancy leave, only mandating that employers make "reasonable acommodations" for physical needs.
Masin wasn't immediately available for comment.