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April 7, 2010

Breaks for Nursing Mothers Now Required

The Fair Labor Standards Act was recently amended to require employers to provide breaks and a place for employees who are nursing mothers to express breast milk.  The space must be something other than a bathroom, and must be shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.  The breaks and space must be provided for up to 1 year after each child’s birth. 

The nursing mother breaks can be unpaid, and employers with less than 50 employees are not subject to this law if the new 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. 

Note also that some states and other jurisdictions (including the District of Columbia) have similar laws.

Employers Should Review Their Handbooks

This change to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) points to the need for employers to periodically review their employee handbooks and policies to make sure that they are current and in compliance with the law.  For example, in recent years, other laws have been enacted or amended that may require changes to an employer’s policies.  These include the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the District of Columbia Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act, the Maryland Flexible Leave Act, and federal, state and local non-discrimination laws.  If you have not reviewed your handbooks and policies recently, this may be an opportune time to do so. 

The contents of this Alert are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact a member of the Shulman Rogers Employment and Labor Law Group, or the Shulman Rogers attorney with whom you regularly work.