Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Apr 19, 2010

New federal law mandates breaks for nursing mothers


Buried in the recently enacted health care reform legislation is a new federal requirement to provide reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk. Employees can take these breaks for up to one year after the childs birth, as needed. You must provide a private location that is shielded from view, other than a restroom, for this purpose. The law applies to all employers, although those with fewer than 50 employees dont have to comply if it would cause an undue hardship (significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employers business.) The law is effective immediately (Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590), amending the Fair Labor Standards Act).

Tips: You should generally be able to require employees to use their normal meal periods and rest breaks if they need to express breast milk. An individual may need more time, though, than the typical 10-minute rest break, or may need breaks more frequently. If the break extends beyond the normal amount of rest and meal periods you provide for other employees, you dont have to pay for the extra break time. Also, the right to express and store breast milk doesnt mean that the employee has the right to bring her baby to work. You may permit her to do so, but it isnt required. For more information, see our Model Policy, Breastfeeding in the Workplace (4174).

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.