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.