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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Contains Hidden Costs for Employers

Kegler Brown E-mployment Alert

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past six months, you’ve heard all about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), the new health care legislation recently signed into law by President Obama. Many of you probably know about the Act’s requirement that employers choose between providing health care for their employees or paying a tax each year; what you may not know is the Act also contains hidden costs for employers, including an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Hidden within the 2,000 pages of the PPACA is an amendment to the FLSA that adds a new section, Section 7(r), which requires employers to provide female employees:

“a reasonable break time to express breast milk for one year after the child’s birth, each time the employee has need to express milk.”

The Act does not define “a reasonable break time,” and one can expect new regulations from the Department of Labor on the topic. The break times do not have to be compensated. In addition, Section 7(r) also requires that employers provide:

“a place, other than a bathroom” that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

In most cases, this amounts to a lactation room with a door that can be locked and probably an electrical outlet.

The Act does not mention when these provisions will go into effect and also provides that employers with less than 50 employees can avoid the requirements if they can demonstrate that complying would cause them an “undue hardship.”

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