Employers Ponder Where to Put Lactation Stations

Amid a flurry of new federal legislation, employers are beginning to gain a better understanding of the new Breaktime for Nursing Mothers law (Section 4207 of PPACA).   Employers with 50 or greater employees must provide a reasonable break time for expectant mothers to express milk at the workplace.   Many sources say a reasonable break time can be estimated at 30 minutes for every 4 hours. Employers who are under 50 employees who can show signs  of hardship through "difficulty of expense" in complying will be exempt.   Our employee benefits counsel has confirmed that it is not based on the number of employees at a given location, but rather the total number of employees that work for the company as a whole, subject to Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA) definitions.   Employers will not be required to treat the break as compensable time.   While this law is already the standard for many larger employer worksites, many  small to mid-size employers cramped for space are scratching their heads.   Furthermore, it is logical to  question a burden of compliance  for certain industries (oil & gas rig, coal mines, etc...)     The new guidance confirms the station cannot be a bathroom and that it must be free from intrusion and shielded from view.

While the effective date is coincident with the day President Obama signed PPACA into law, the rules for enforcement have not yet been released.   We anticipate Department of Labor (DOL) to provide the penalties for non compliance and give employers a time frame to  comply.   For more guidance on employer best practices, you can visit the United States Breastfeeding Committee available links.