Am I required to provide my employee with time off work to breastfeed? Do I have to pay for this, if so?
Probably and no. In 1998 Minnesota was one of the first states to adopt rules entitling mothers time of during the workday to breastfeed their babies. Many other states over the years followed suit and as part of the Health Care Reform law sweeping the nation, one provision requires covered employers with 50+ employees to provide a reasonable amount of time off during the workday for mothers to breastfeed children up to 1 year old. Even if the company is not covered by this federal law, Minnesota's law is comprehensive and applies to business with 1 or more employee.
Key to these laws is the requirement that employers provide a private setting and take steps to ensure the privacy for the mother to breastfeed. Such a setting cannot be a bathroom (federal requirement) or toilet stall (state). The issue that confronts many employers is whether allowing for this event is reasonable. That issue is appropriately addressed on a case-by-case basis and is likely to vary from employer to employer.
As to the issue of pay, neither the state nor the federal law requires employers to pay for this time taken by mothers for these purposes.
Thompson Coe’s Tips of the Week are not intended as a solicitation, do not constitute legal advice and do not establish an attorney-client relationship.