Breastfeeding is very common in today’s society, having increased by 10% over the last 15 years. Giving working – nursing – mothers a break was one of the immediate effects of Obamacare when it passed last year. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act was modified to require employers to offer breaks to nursing mothers for up to one year after the birth of a child.
Employers must offer a “reasonable break time” for nursing mothers to express milk as often as necessary. The employer must offer a private space for the employee to take the break, but a restroom (even if private) will not suffice. Employers do not have to pay the employee during the breaks, but if the employee already receives a paid break time, that time may be used.
Employers with less than 50 employees can skip out on this requirement, but only if they can show an undue hardship. Be careful though, the Department of Labor is unlikely to side with employers in a close call. If you think you should be exempt, check with your lawyer for some advice.