The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (also known as Health Care Reform), requires that employers shall provide breastfeeding employees with “reasonable break time” including a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, up until their child’s first birthday. The Act places no limits on the number of breaks that must be provided or how long a break time must be in order to be considered “reasonable.” In regard to the “private place, other than a restroom,” where breastfeeding employees are to express breast milk, the Act requires that such an area provide privacy such that those expressing milk are “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”
Only employers with less than 50 employees are exempt from the Act, and only if compliance with the law “would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense.” Although employers are not required to pay breastfeeding employees during the mandated lactation breaks, in view of state and federal and state employment statutes against disparate treatment and the Fair Labor Standard Act’s compensable time provisions, employers should consider all relevant laws and circumstances if they plan to consider lactation breaks as unpaid. Employees may not be retaliated against for exerting their rights under the new law.
This new law takes effect immediately. Thus, Michigan employers need to immediately review and change their employment practices, rules and policies regarding their employees’ break times to make certain that they are not violating the law. This includes immediately informing managers and supervisors of the new legal requirements and the need to avoid any alleged retaliatory acts. This also includes establishing a shielded private place outside of a restroom where breastfeeding employees can take their lactation breaks without intrusion.
Please feel free to contact Masud Labor Law Group at (989) 792-4499 for assistance in complying with the new law. The Masud Labor Law Group is available to provide employers with needed reviews, training, rules and policies changes, and to answer any other employment questions or concerns.
Richard R. Vary graduated cum laude from Thomas M. Cooley Law School where he received an American Jurisprudence Book Award in Administrative Law. While attending law school, he was a member of the Michigan Department of State Police and served on the Department’s Emergency Services Team. Dick has considerable litigation experience in civil and criminal trials and appeals in both state and federal courts, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before joining Masud Labor Law Group, Dick served as an Assistant United States Attorney conducting federal criminal prosecutions, grand jury investigations, and defending civil suits against federal agencies.
This article is published by the Masud Labor Law Group, and is intended as general information only. This article is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion, as such advice may only be given when related to specific fact situations. Questions or comments concerning this article should be directed to the Masud Labor Law Group, 4449 Fashion Square Blvd., Ste. 1, Saginaw, Michigan, 48603, (989) 792-4499. E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ©Masud Labor Law Group 2010. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article in whole or in part, without express permission from the Masud Labor Law Group is prohibited.