Break Time for Nursing Mothers
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also 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. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. The Wage and Hour Fact Sheet #73 “Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA” and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
In July 2017, Massachusetts Governer Charlie Baker signed the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. This law requires employers to provide pregnant women and new mothers with “reasonable accommodations” for their pregnancies and prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of pregnancy or a condition related to prengancy, including lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. Massachusetts employers are required to provide more frequent or longer paid or unpaid breaks and a private non-bathroom space for expressing breastmilk.
The HHS guideline for implementing the ACA includes, “comprehensive lactation support and counseling, by a trained provider during pregnancy and/or in the postpartum period, and costs for renting breastfeeding equipment.”41 (or use healthcare.gov wording: Pregnant and postpartum women have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment.) Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their health and that of their children. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.1