As part of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), the Fair Labor Standards Act has been amended to require breaks for nursing mothers. Effective immediately, employers must now provide “reasonable” breaks for nursing mothers to breastfeed or express breast milk. The amendment does not define “reasonable,” nor does it specify the length or frequency of the required breaks. The reasonable breaks, which must be provided for up to one year after the child’s birth, can be unpaid breaks.
Additionally, employers must also provide a private place, other than a restroom, that is “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”
Many states already have laws related to nursing in the workplace. Florida, however, is not one of them. While Florida Statute 383.015 allows women to breastfeed in any public or private location, no law in Florida specifically required an employer to offer breaks for nursing mothers.
Expect the Department of Labor to issue guidance on this issue shortly. Until then, employers must take care to design appropriate break policies to ensure compliance with this new FLSA requirement.