Thursday, December 10, 2009

Break time – it's not just for coffee and cigs

I don’t know about you, but I think it’s just great when the federal government finally catches up with the states.

For several years now, dozens of states have had laws in place that provide protections for nursing mothers. For example, in Illinois, employers must provide reasonable, unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant. Many other states have similar laws.

Believe it or not, the Senate’s health care reform bill (H.R. 3590) contains a provision (Act Section 4207 on page 1239) that would require employers to provide reasonable, unpaid break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, where an employee may express breast milk.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees wouldn’t be subject to these requirements if they would impose an undue hardship by causing an employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

In addition, this provision would not preempt state laws that provide greater protections to employees than this provision would provide.


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