Beginning January 1, 2022, a new law came into effect in Minnesota known as the “Pregnancy Accommodation Law”. The law states:
An employer with 15 or more employees will, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, be required to provide “reasonable accommodations to an employee for health conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth upon request, with the advice of a licensed health care provider or certified doula, unless the employer demonstrates that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.” The omnibus employment and economic development law states examples may include a “temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, seating, frequent restroom breaks, and limits to heavy lifting.” Rep. Mohamud Noor (DFL-Mpls) and Sen. Eric Pratt (R-Prior Lake) sponsor the law. 2021 Special Session: SSHF1/SSSF9*/SSCH10.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has approved an amendment relating to pregnancy accommodations and barring reducing compensation for lactation breaks, among other changes. Under Minnesota law, employers must provide employees who need to express breast milk for their infant child reasonable break times each day. The amendment prohibits an employer from reducing an employee's compensation for time used for the purpose of expressing milk. The amendment also includes language that limits an employer's obligation to the 12 months following the birth of the child. Employers may still ask that these lactation breaks be scheduled over regularly scheduled rest or meal breaks, but if not, they cannot dock pay.
So- why does this law matter to businesses no matter their location? Because pregnancy and parenting accommodations are proven to decrease turn over and empower parenting workers to be steadfast in meeting their career goals.
You only need one chart to see why that is true.
A new survey by MAVEN and Great Place to Work of more than 1,200 companies asked some 440,000 employees who are raising children about the benefits they receive and how they feel about their employer as a result. Companies were then ranked based on those responses, including based on the number of weeks primary and secondary caregivers are given in paid parental leave. The results, above, show a simple cause and effect result- companies that invested more in their working caregivers saw their employees work harder, stay longer, and recommend their employer to other job seekers more often.
According to the Great Place to Work, the 10 companies that ranked the highest in terms of best parental benefits include Cisco, Hilton, Comcast NBC Universal, PwC, Deloitte, Wegmans, and American Express. These companies offered 20 weeks of maternity leave on average, covering around 18 of them as fully paid. They also offered fertility support and nine out of the 10 support parents finding childcare resources.
So how does this relate to the “Great Resignation”?
In March 2020, our communities shut down, massive layoffs occurred and the economy contracted drastically. As things reopened over the summer there was an increased demand the goods and services that had waned during lock-down. That demand meant the need for more workers as companies scaled up and went on hiring sprees. Unfortunately, the need for employees was met with hesitancy over the virus and employees who had felt safe in lock-down proved reluctant to return to work until they were a little more confident they wouldn’t be risking their and their families’ health. The over abundance of jobs was met with increased competition for those willing and able to work- the more competition, the better the pay and benefits. This lead to employees shopping around for employers who would make them feel the most valued even if that meant changing careers.
Employees want to feel valued- Minnesota got it right, focus on families and you will be rewarded.
- Parental Leave and Accommodations are an easy number for candidates to compare, which helps recruit top talent.
Parental leave is a major factor influencing new recruits’ decisions about which employer would be a good long-term fit and offering generous parental leave policies can boost your reputation with future recruits. A 2016 Deloitte survey showed that 77 percent of workers said paid parental leave benefits could be a factor that persuades them to choose one employer over another.
- Employee turnover is expensive, mindful parent-centric policies save money because more employees return after leave.
Paid leave programs help businesses avoid the cost of having to hire and train employees to replace those who choose to leave to care for their children. Parental leave allows working parents to settle into their new family life and create a new routine, so when they return to work, they can focus on their job more effectively.
- Equal leave for all caregivers promotes gender equality in the workplace.
Even the federal government has encouraged “more gender-neutral leave-taking”. Leave plans that focus on gender are thought to “perpetuate the idea that parents are not equal partners: one parent will be primarily in charge of caring for the children” and “the term primary caregiver will almost always be assumed to refer to the mother.”
- Millennial employees strive for a work-life balance, show them you support their families, and they will support you.
A recent study by Ernst & Young (“EY”) showed that 83 percent of U.S. millennials said they would be more likely to join a company with parental leave benefits, 86 percent are less likely to quit if paid leave is offered, and 38 percent would leave the U.S. to pursue a job in another country with better benefits?
 Deloitte, Parental Leave Survey: Less than half of people surveyed feel their organization helps men feel comfortable taking parental leave, Deloitte (June 15, 2016), https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/deloitte-survey-parental-leave.html (discussing results of responses by 1,000 U.S. employees).
 Schulte, B., Durana, A., Stout, B., and Moyer, J (2017). Paid Family Leave: How Much Time Is Enough? Available at: https://www.newamerica.org/better-life-lab/reports/paid-family-leave-how-much-time-enough/#authors
 Hannah Arenstam, A Mother of a Problem: How the Language of Inequality Affects Maternity Leave Policies and Women in Law Firms, 12 Nw. J. L. & Soc. Pol’y 1, 20 (2017).
 See Orion Jones, For Gender Equality, Dad and Mom Need Parental Leave, bigthink, http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/for-gender-equality-mom-and-dad-need-parental-leave (last visited Mar. 31, 2018).
 EY, Global generations: A global study on work-life challenges across generations, EY 20-21 (2015), http://www.ey.com/Publication/vwLUAssets/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations/%24FILE/EY-global-generations-a-global-study-on-work-life-challenges-across-generations.pdf (showing results of a cross-cultural, generational survey conducted by Harris Poll, on behalf of EY, of 9,699 employees aged 18-67) [hereinafter EY: Global generations]; Ronald Alsop, Millennials See Paternity Leave as a Priority, NY Times (Nov. 28, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/28/well/family/millennials-see-paternity-leave-as-a-priority.html.