The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted March 23, 2010, requires employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide unpaid reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for a year after her child’s birth.
The Act defines a private place as a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusions from coworkers and the general public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. When an employer is creating this “private place,” it may want to consider some practical issues. For instance, should the door have a lock? How will you coordinate the use of the room if more than one employee has a need for it? Perhaps you will want to implement a signup sheet. Although the act does not require an employer to provide equipment for the nursing mother, you may want to consider providing electric breast pumps which are faster than hand pumps (if you do provide the electric pumps you should have your employees sign a release of liability waiver prior to using the equipment). Perhaps a small refrigerator to store the milk in and a sink either in the room or nearby to clean up equipment after the nursing mothers is finished. Employers will want to use this opportunity to create a room that demonstrates their commitment to a family friendly work environment. Make the room as comfortable as possible. Other suggestions include parenting magazines, coat trees, and bulletin boards for baby pictures. Finally, you will want to make sure your supervisors are trained on the new requirements. It is important that they are supportive and that they encourage others not to intrude on the employees’ privacy during this time. For more information on your requirements to accommodate nursing mothers see DOL's Fact Sheet 73.
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