Earlier this month, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed Bill # 5158, “An Act Concerning Breastfeeding in the Workplace.” As of October 1, 2021, this law will broaden the scope of an employer’s obligation to accommodate breastfeeding employees.
The new legislation amends Section 31-40w of the Connecticut General Bylaws, which guarantees an employee’s right to breastfeed or express breastmilk in the workplace during an employee’s meal or break. The law, which applies to all Connecticut employers regardless of size, requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location where employees can express their breast milk in private. The amended law provides additional information regarding the “room or other location” which must be provided beyond the existing law, which only requires it to be close to the work area and cannot be a toilet stall. .
As of October 1, 2021, the room or other location must meet the following requirements:
- It must be safe from any intrusion and away from the public during the expression of breast milk by the employee;
- It must include or be located near a refrigerator or portable cold storage device provided by the employee in which the employee can store breast milk; and
- He must have access to an electrical outlet.
These new legal requirements will only apply to the extent that they do not impose âundue hardshipâ on the employer’s business. The law defines undue hardship as “any action which requires difficulty or significant expense when considered in relation to facts such as the size of the company, its financial resources and the nature and structure of its operations” .
In other words, whether the new requirements will impose undue hardship on an employer is a factual question that must be determined on an individual basis. Nonetheless, many employers may find it difficult to demonstrate undue hardship by giving a nursing employee access to a small room with a door, an electrical outlet, and a mini-fridge so that the employee can express her milk during. a meal or a break. In light of these changes, Connecticut employers are well advised to review their policies and procedures regarding breastfeeding employee accommodations in the workplace to ensure compliance with Connecticut law.