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The federal health care reform bill signed on March 23, 2010 contained an amendment to the FLSA (new section 207(r)(1)) requiring employers to give breaks for nursing.
Under that new FLSA provision, a non-exempt employee is entitled to a "reasonable break time" to express breast milk for her nursing child, each time the employee needs to express the milk, for up to one year following the child's birth.
A nursing mom has the right to a private, non-bathroom place where the employee will not be disturbed while expressing the milk.
Unlike ordinary coffee or rest breaks, nursing/breast-pumping breaks do not need to be compensated, so the company can have a policy requiring employees to clock out and then back in for such breaks. Employees who use their regular paid rest breaks for nursing/expression of breast milk would be paid for those breaks just like any other employees. In terms of total work time for the shift, the employee may need to either arrive earlier or stay longer to work a certain number of hours, or else experience a slight reduction in pay due to having unpaid nursing/breast-pumping breaks during the day and not being able to arrive earlier or stay later to make up the time.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are excused from this requirement if compliance would cause them undue hardship (the burden of proving that would be on the small employer).
See the new DOL fact sheet at http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm.
The federal law notes that state laws are not preempted – thus, in Texas the following laws are important to be aware of:
Texas Health & Safety Code, Sec. 165.002. "A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be."
Texas Health & Safety Code, Sec. 165.003. "(a) A business may use the designation 'mother-friendly' in its promotional materials if the business develops a policy supporting the practice of worksite breast-feeding ... ."
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