On August 11, 2020, Georgia expanded protection for new moms in the workplace by enacting legislation requiring employers to provide paid lactation breaks and private locations at the worksite for employees to express breast milk.
The new law, known as “Charlotte’s Law,” provides more protection to nursing mothers than under prior federal law and state law. Previously, it was optional for an employer to provide reasonable unpaid break time to an employee to express breast milk for an infant child. Similarly, employers could, but were not required to, provide a room or other location close to the work area, other than a toilet stall, for employees to express the milk.
- Coverage: The new law applies to any person or entity that employs one or more employees (except for the state and its political subdivisions).
- Mandatory break time: An employer must provide break time of a reasonable duration to an employee who desires to express breast milk at the worksite during work hours. Thus, providing lactation breaks is not optional.
- Worksite Only: No employer shall be required to provide paid break time to an employee on any day that the employee is working away from any of the employer’s worksites.
- Compensation: The break time shall be paid at the employee’s regular rate of compensation. Paid leave applies to exempt and non-exempt employees. Thus, if the employee is paid on a salary basis, the employer shall neither require the salaried employee to use paid leave during any break time nor reduce the employee’s salary as a result of the salaried employee taking a break to express breast milk during the workday.
- Private Location: The employer must provide a private location other than a restroom that is shielded from view to express breast milk in privacy. This is mandatory, not optional. The location should be free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, etc.
- Hardship Exemption: The new law includes an undue hardship exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees. The exemption is available only if compliance would cause “the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.”
The new law (codified at O.C.G.A. § 34-1-6) is effective immediately. Employers should ensure they comply with its requirements and update their policies regarding paid breaks for breastfeeding.
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