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Women's Economic Security Act becomes law on Mother's Day

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law a wide-ranging measure that aims at closing the gender pay gap and providing safer workplaces for women.

The Women's Economic Security Act is expected to impact many Minnesota businesses. Business groups have said the measure could result in a greater number of lawsuits, while supporters say it will improve conditions for working families.

Here's a breakdown of the law:

– Increases unpaid leave for a pregnancy from six to 12 weeks and requires businesses to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant or nursing women. It also extends the use of sick leave to caring for grandchildren.

– Requires private businesses that contract with the state to certify that they pay men and women equally.

– Expands support for employers, workforce organizations and others to recruit and train women in nontraditional occupations. It also provides grant money to Women Venture and Women's Business Center of Northeast Minnesota to help women develop high economic impact businesses in nontraditional industries.

– Enhances protections for victims of domestic violence.

– Launches a feasibility study for a state retirement savings plan for those without an employer-provided option.

Sunday was also Mother's Day. In President Barack Obama's proclamation of the national holiday, he touched on women's political issues, saying his administration is ”proud to fight alongside women as they push to close the gender pay gap, shatter glass ceilings, and implement workplace policies that do not force any parent to choose between their jobs and their kids.”

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