Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Employers Must Now Provide Lactation Breaks and Facilities

BreastfeedingWe haven't posted much about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act because it focuses so much on regulating the insurance industry and to a lesser extent regulates employers. There's an important protection in it, though, for women who breastfeed their children. Section 4207 amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to require employers to give women reasonable breaks and a location that is not a bathroom to express breast milk. Here's the text.

SEC. 4207. REASONABLE BREAK TIME FOR NURSING MOTHERS.
      Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:
      `(r)(1) An employer shall provide--
            `(A) a 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; and
            `(B) 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.
      `(2) An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph (1) for any work time spent for such purpose.
      `(3) An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer's business.
      `(4) Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.'.

While promoting expressing milk may not be problem free as a policy matter, many women rely on the ability to do so to feed their children, and this is a very important step forward that will support more women of more classes who want to breastfeed their children. I heartily applaud it.

MM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/laborprof_blog/2010/03/employers-must-now-provide-lactation-breaks-and-facilities.html

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