Connecticut Employment Law Blog Insight on Labor & Employment Developments for Connecticut Businesses

New Health Care Bill Adds Federal Rights Regarding Lactation / Breast Pumping in Workplace; Conn. Law Unchanged

Posted in Laws and Regulations, Legislative Developments, Wage & Hour

UPDATED

Credit Molly DiBianca at Delaware Employment Law Blog and Fitzpatrick on Employment Law for highlighting a little-known provision that was passed in the health care law.  As summarized by Molly:

Section 4207, titled, Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Because it is born to the FLSA, its provisions apply to almost all employers—every employer engaged in interstate commerce of at least $500,000 per year, hospitals, businesses providing medical or nursing care for residents, schools and preschools, and government agencies.

And what is required? With some exceptions, an employer shall provide:

(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth; and
(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

The language is curiously narrow.  It only seems to allow for the expressing of milk in the workplace (typically through a breast pump) and not directly breast-feeding a child.

For employers in Connecticut, however, this new law will has limited  impact because some of those protections were already guaranteed under state law and indeed, state law is a bit broader in some ways.  I’ve previously summarized these requirements in one of my earliest posts.  Connecticut law talks about allowing an employee to "breastfeed" or express milk while the federal law only seems to discuss expressing milk. But now, federal law will guarantee a break for employees whose employers are covered by the FLSA  which was not required under state law (only that an employee may use meal or break time). 

For employers addressing these issues, seeking some legal counsel on the various state and federal law requirements in this area may be needed to make sense of it all. 

(This version clarifies that a break is not mandated under Connecticut law but now is mandated under federal law for employers covered by the FLSA.)