Updating Handbooks to Include Break Time for Nursing Mothers

July 22nd, 2010

Most employers are aware that federal law now requires them to provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to a nursing mother to express milk. Many, however, have yet to amend their handbooks to include a policy reflecting the federal law. This simple step should be done to ensure that employees are on notice of their rights and to provide a guide for management. This Short Report provides a quick overview of the requirements of the law and a sample policy that employers may want to put in their handbooks.

Overview of the Law

The Fair Labor Standards Act now requires all employers to provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time as frequently as needed by a nursing mother to express milk for up to one year after the child’s birth. In addition, the employer must provide the employee with "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public" to express milk. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from the rule only if compliance would impose an undue hardship. Employers may not retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under the law.

Policy

As noted, employers should include a provision regarding the new law in their handbooks. The provision can be as simple as the following: 

Employees who are nursing will be provided with reasonable unpaid breaks to express breast milk as frequently as needed for up to one year after the birth of a child. [Employer] will provide a place for the break, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion. Employees will not be retaliated against for exercising their rights under this policy.

Employers with less than 50 employees could add the following sentence: This policy will not apply in cases where compliance with the policy would impose an undue hardship on [employer].

If you have any questions about this law relating to the rights of nursing mothers, or would like assistance in revising your employee handbook to reflect this new requirement, please contact Meg Vergeront at 608.259.2663 or mvergeront@staffordlaw.com, or another attorney on our Government Law Team.

Filed Under: Government Law

Note: The SR Short Report is published by Stafford Rosenbaum. The SR Short Report is provided for informational purpose only and should not be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. The legal issues raised by a particular situation may differ from those addressed in the publication. We encourage you to contact one of the Stafford Rosenbaum attorneys before making a legal decision.