Breaks Now Required for Nursing Mothers

June 09, 2010

Employers with 50 or more employees are required to provide a nursing mother with "a reasonable break time" to express breast milk each time the employee needs to express milk for up to a year after her child's birth.


In addition, the provision requires employers to provide a place other than a bathroom that is private where the employee may express milk. The place must be "shielded from view" and "free from intrusion from coworkers and the public." Although the Act does not define what a "reasonable" break time period is, it does indicate that a Non Exempt employee does not have to be paid for the time. Exempt employees must be paid.

Employers with less than 50 employees are not entirely off the hook. The Act states that these employers will not be covered by the requirements if they can show that the breaks would cause an "undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense." An employer's size, financial resources, nature, or structure will be considered to determine whether undue hardship exists. Again, the Act does not define "undue hardship" beyond these descriptions, but the standard appears difficult to meet. Therefore SESCO advises that even smaller employers prepare to meet these requirements.

Finally, the new provision also indicates that employers still must comply with any state law providing greater protections to nursing mothers. Several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, and the District of Columbia, require employers to allow nursing mothers unpaid breaks to express milk during the work day.

SESCO strongly recommends that policy be developed and implamented into your policies and procedures/employee handbook. Please contact SESCO should you wish to discuss these regulations and/or policy development. You may contact us at www.sescomgt.com or by phone at 423-764-4127.