Wednesday, July 28, 2010

For employers: Break time requirement for nursing mothers

The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division posted a helpful fact sheet providing general information on the new break time requirement for nursing mothers. This was included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that amends Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

I strongly suggest that employers read the fact sheet in full, and download and print the PDF. But here are some of the most important takeaways that I pulled right from the document:
  • Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 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 the space is not dedicated to the nursing mother’s use, it must be available when needed in order to meet the statutory requirement.
  • The FLSA requirement of break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk does not preempt state laws that provide greater protections to employees.
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship.
  • Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.
I'm happy to see these requirements are being publicized by the Department of Labor. Moms, be sure to pass this link along to your coworkers and HR department.

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