Obamacare Accommodates Nursing Mothers in the Workplace


Employers have devoted much of their attention to the insurance mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but there are other requirements that also affect the workplace. For example, did you know that companies are required to provide a clean, private and secure place for some, but not all, employees who are breastfeeding.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act, sets out requirements for employers to provide employees the time and space for nursing mothers to express breast milk throughout the work day for one full year after the birth of a child.

The law applies to businesses with 50 or more employees, who are not eligible for exemption due to placing undue hardship on the operation of the business. Here's more information on the law that provides nursing mothers with break time at work.

Break Time for Nursing Mothers

A nursing mother is allowed the time to express breast milk each time she feels the need, as the Affordable Care Act recognizes the importance for her to maintain her milk supply while she is at work. Any paid break time can be used for the purpose of expressing breast milk, and additional time may be taken without compensation or penalty. If the State laws provide additional benefits, they will be the standard for compliance of the employer.

Employer Accomodations for Nursing at Work

Employers must provide "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk." The place can be a temporary or permanent space, as long as it offers the appropriate privacy, and as long as there is enough room to privately accommodate all of the women who need it without extended waiting periods.

Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(r)(1) An employer shall provide—

A. A reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk; and

B. A place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

(2) An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph for any work time spent for such purpose.

(3) An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection, if such 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.

(4) Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.


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