Most of the discussion of the new Health Care Reform bill has focused on the effects of the new law on employer-sponsored medical insurance plans. An additional provision of the law will require employers to provide accommodations to employees who are breastfeeding children.
Employers with 50 or more employees will be required to provide employees with reasonable breaks to express breast milk. The employer must set aside a private location other than a restroom for this purpose. Employers with less than 50 employees can avoid this obligation only if they can demonstrate an unreasonable hardship. Unreasonable hardship is not defined in the law, but will approximate the standard used under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new law also amends the Fair Labor Standard Act to allow employers to consider time spent expressing breast milk as non-working time. Under current law, employers generally cannot consider breaks less than 20 minutes in duration as non-working time.
This law parallels similar laws already in effect in a number of states. Its provisions take effect immediately, but the Department of Labor will not begin enforcement efforts until it issues regulations defining terms and enforcement procedures.