Whether readers of our Evesham Employment Law Blog were on board or against it, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act recently went into effect across the nation. While the main focus of this piece of legislation was health insurance, it wasn’t the only area of law that was affected.
Did you know that included in this vast bill was a little section that amended the Fair Labor Standards Act to define a standard set of employment rights for mothers that are nursing? If you didn’t, you do now.
Maternity leave varies for working moms, and whether it is due to need or desire, many moms return to work while they are still nursing. Transitioning back to work may require a little adjustment, but some employers work with nursing moms to allow a private space and time to pump during the day. Sadly, for some women, a seemingly little request requires a big battle.
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to include defined rights concerning break time for nursing mothers in the workplace. The law now requires that employers provide “reasonable 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.”
Not only must an employer allow the nursing mom adequate time, but employers across the nation, including in New Jersey, are required to provide an adequate space as well — and a bathroom doesn’t count. It must be a place “that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.”
Changes to the law are made on a daily basis. What falls under the definition of “employee rights” is not always clear for workers. Sometimes, an employment issue starts with a gut feeling that something just isn’t right. Thankfully, there are attorneys that devote their time to keeping up with the changes and can help an employee determine if their “gut feeling” is really an employment claim.
Source: United States Department of Labor, “Fact Sheet #73: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA,” Nov. 19, 2013