As previously reported here, the recent Health Care Reform legislation includes a provision, which became effective immediately upon passage of the Act, requiring employers to provide breaks for employees to express milk for nursing children. The USDOL issued a fact sheet this week explaining its view of an employer’s obligations under this enactment. The highlights are below and the full government Fact Sheet can be viewed here.
· The requirement only applies to non-exempt employees however the DOL notes that state laws with similar requirements may cover all employees;
· The break time need not be paid as long as the individual is completely relieved of work duties and the activity does not occur during an otherwise paid break period;
· Reasonable break time must be provided for up to 1 year following birth. There are no set rules regarding frequency or length and each situation stands alone;
· An employer is required to provide a location shielded from view and a private bathroom will not suffice. The space need not be dedicated but must be made available immediately when needed; and
· Employers with under 50 employees can assert an undue hardship defense, however, there is no guidance as to whether this is determined on a location by location or employer-wide basis. Forthcoming regulations from the USDOL will hopefully clarify this issue.
All employers must ensure compliance with this new legal mandate.