In 2010, a federal law amended "the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 (29 U.S. Code 207) to require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth. The employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time for any work time spent for such purpose, however, the employer must provide a place, other than a bathroom, for the employee to express breast milk. If these requirements impose undue hardship, an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees is not subject to these requirements. The federal requirements shall not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees." And many states have them. Click here for a link to the law and a listing of state laws addressing the subject.
The law further states, "the location provided must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the space is not dedicated to the nursing mother’s use, it must be available when needed in order to meet the statutory requirement. A space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is sufficient provided that the space is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public."
Since this space does not have to be a dedicated room for this use only, few businesses consider this requirement in their new or major renovation building projects. And many may not even be aware that it was part of the 2010 legislation.
Luckett & Farley recently received a request from a client to add a dedicated space to meet the law early in the construction phase of their building project. Our solution, while requiring some minor rearranging of the planned space, did not ultimately add any square footage to the building. We addressed it by adding the space as part of their locker room, but separate from the restroom as shown in the following layout:
The space required should be accessible to those with disabilities as would be required by code and to meet the intent of the law (functional as a space for expressing breast milk) should include at least (1) standard electrical wall outlet. And while the law does not specifically state, consider at a minimum to provide one chair and one table.
Remember to make sure your business is providing for the needs of your nursing mothers by providing an accommodating existing space or a new dedicated space. For clarity and advice for your facility, send me your questions or schedule an appointment for a visit.