When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, it amended a portion of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to accommodate nursing mothers who return to work after the birth of their child. Failure to follow these new rules could result in serious small business employment litigation in Illinois and across the country.
Under the amended Section 7(r) of the FLSA, employers must provide a reasonable break time for nursing mothers to express their breast milk for up to a full year after their child’s birth. The employee must be allowed to take these breaks every time they have the need to express their milk. Employees do not have to be compensated for these breaks, unless they fall during the employees’ regular compensated break period. This requirement applies to all employers, though businesses with less than 50 employees can apply for an exemption if they can prove the requirements would cause undue hardship to the business.
In addition to allowing for time to express the breast milk, employers must also provide a space other than the bathroom for the employee to use during this time. The space can be temporarily created or converted, or can simply be made available to the nursing mother when needed. This space must be free from co-worker intrusion and shielded from the view of both co-workers and clients. It must also be function. In general, employers will need to provide a seat for the employee and an outlet for the pump at a minimum.
If you have an employee who is returning to work following childbirth and you are concerned about what will be required of your business under the law, or if you have been accused of violating any part of the FLSA, having a qualified attorney is important. Contact the experienced professionals at the Miller Law Firm, P.C. We have had experience with hundreds of Illinois FLSA cases and can help you ensure your business is protected.