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Most Employers Must Provide Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Hidden within the new healthcare bill is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act which requires employers to provide “reasonable break time” and private space for mothers who need to express milk during work hours. The space must be shielded from the intrusions of other workers and may not be a restroom. Employers are not required to compensate the break time, but must offer it for one year after the birth of a child. The amendment does not specify a limit on the number of breaks, nor does it define the duration of a “reasonable” break. Employers with 50 or less employees will not be required to follow this provision if they can prove that it would cause them undue hardship. 

The amendment will not preempt a more generous state law on this issue, so it is important to check what, if any, state law may also apply.  A policy on expressing milk can be good for employers because it decreases absenteeism and increases retention of female employees. This is just one of the many provisions in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that will affect employers in the next few years. We will continue to advise you of how this bill may affect you and your business. 

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying and remaining current with state and federal employment laws.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.965.0560.