Do I need to allow breaks for moms so that they can express milk for their newborn babies?
Maybe. One of the many components of 2010 health care reform included a lesser publicized provision amending the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require that employers provide mothers reasonable break time to express breast milk for the employee's nursing a child for 1 year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. In addition to requiring employers to allow for time, companies are additionally required to 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."
There are, however, some limitations to this federal law. First, the law only covers employees who are non-exempt -- i.e. hourly paid employees. Exempt employees -- e.g., your salaried professionals, administrative staff and executives--are not covered by this law. Second, the law covers all typically FLSA covered employers, however, companies with less than 50 employees are not required to comply if doing so would be an undue hardship.
For those employers in Minnesota, the Women's Economic Security Act recently passed expands employers' requirements even further beyond the federal requirements. For example, Minnesota employers, in addition to providing non-bathroom stalls and ensuring that it's free from intrusion, must provide employees with an electrical outlet.
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.