Parental rights are defined by both state and federal law. Under federal law, the Family and Medical Leave Act ("FMLA") defines the rights of parents. The state equivalent in Minnesota is the Minnesota Parental Leave Act ("MPLA"). The general minimum requirements for parental rights in employment are defined by the FMLA, but states often raise the minimum requirements for employers. Here are some key points for each:

The FMLA minimums apply to all public-sector employers and also to private employers with 50 or more employees. THe MPLA applies to employers with 21 or more workers at any one site.

FMLA protections apply to employees who have been employed with a qualifying employer for the past 12 consecutive months and have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during the previous 12 months. MPLA protections apply to employees who have been employed with a qualifying employer for at least 12 consecutive months, and for an average of one-half the full-time equivalent position in the employee's job classification during those 12 months.

Employees under the FMLA are entitled to receive twelve weeks' unpaid leave in a 12-month period, continued coverage for health care premiums with payment on the same basis as prior to leave, and a guaranteed return to the previous job or an equivalent position. Employees under the MPLA are entitled to six weeks' unpaid leave, continued access to health insurance coverage (though the employee can be required to pay the full cost of coverage), and a guaranteed return to the previous job or an equivalent position.

A child's birth, adoption, or foster care placement serves as an event qualifying a parent for leave under the FMLA. Foster care placement does not qualify a parent for leave under the MPLA.

As a more recent addition, the Patient and Affordable Care Act ("ACA") amended federal law to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. 

If your employer refuses to adhere to the requirements above, or if you are an employee that needs assistance creating a leave policy that complies with these requirements, call WLG to schedule a meeting with an attorney today.