Feds Now Enforcing Break Times for Breast Feeders
The Department of Labor has begun enforcing the law passed in March 2010 requiring break time for nursing mothers and has cited a number of employers for violations of the law. California has had this protection in place far longer than the Feds who have now decided to put out some guidance which do expect employers to follow.
The health care reform law passed in 2010 amended the Fair Labor Standards Act requiring “reasonable” break time for employees who are nursing mothers. The general requirements are as follows:
- The employee must be a non-exempt employee under the FLSA.
- The nursing mother’s child must be 1 year old or younger.
- Breaks must be provided as frequently as needed by the nursing mother.
- The duration of the breaks “may vary” as needed but no specified time period is set forth in any Department of Labor guidance.
- A place must be provided that is “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public” that is not a bathroom. The space need not be designated for this purpose at all times, but it must be available when the nursing mother needs it. If the employer has no nursing mothers, the employer does not need to maintain dedicated space for nursing mothers.
As you can see from the above, “breaks must be provided as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. This requirement is contrary to the regular break time requirements of 10 minutes for every four (4) hours of work. In addition, please keep in mind that inappropriate jokes and comments will open the down to litigation for a number of protected areas such as gender discrimination and sexual harassment.