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Celebrating 10 years of advancing women's economic wellbeing

On Mother’s Day in 2014, Governor Mark Dayton signed into law a sweeping piece of legislation aimed at protecting and promoting opportunities for women in the workplace called the Women’s Economic Security Act (WESA).

On May 13, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) will co-host a celebration to commemorate WESA’s passage, highlighting work accomplished prior to WESA and over the past decade to improve the economic security of women in Minnesota.

“Among its provisions, WESA supports new and expectant parents in the workplace by establishing the right to workplace pregnancy accommodations, pregnancy and parental leave and to express milk at work without losing pay,” said DLI Deputy Commissioner Kate Perushek, who helped develop and pass WESA in 2014. “DLI works to educate employers and employees about these important workplace rights and enforce these laws.”

DLI’s most recent annual report notes the increase in WESA inquiries to the Department – from 180 complaints in 2022 to 327 complaints in 2023. “We encourage employers and employees to contact us with questions about the law and to report possible violations,” Perushek said.

WESA has been revised several times over the years, most recently in July 2023 by creating additional workplace protections for new and expectant parents, including:

• requiring all nursing and lactating workers receive break times to express milk regardless of their child’s age without losing compensation;

• requiring workplace lactation spaces be clean, private and secure;

• expanding the right to a workplace pregnancy accommodation and unpaid parental leave to employees who work for employers of all sizes; and

• requiring employers notify all workers of the rights of pregnant and lactating workers when hired, when a worker makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave, and in a worker handbook if one is provided.

"WESA has helped so many people access economic opportunity in our state," said Gloria Perez, president and CEO of Women's Foundation of Minnesota. "The basis of this legislation came from economics research we commissioned and compiled in the 2014 Status of Women & Girls in Minnesota report, because as we often say, what you inspect is what you improve. While we've made tremendous progress over the past 10 years, we invite Minnesotans to read the 2024 report to understand where there are opportunities for even greater improvement in our communities."

DLI has developed materials in multiple languages to educate employees and employers about their workplace rights and responsibilities under WESA, including a brochure, video and workplace poster. Find these resources and more at dli.mn.gov/newparents.

Find a summary of WESA and improvements made to the law at dli.mn.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/WESA_celebration_fact_sheet_2024.pdf.

 

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