A Massachusetts bill that provides extra protections for pregnant and nursing workers was sent to Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk last week. Baker is expected to sign the bill that would go into effect on April 1.
The bill (ENR May 29/June 5, 2017 P. 13) provides such accommodations as limiting the amount of weight a pregnant worker must lift or requiring employers to provide a “private non-bathroom space” for mothers to express breast milk. The accommodations, however, do not have to be granted if they present “significant difficultly or expense” to the employer.
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws that exceed federal rules. Nursing mothers gained federal protections in 2010, when the Fair Labor Standards Act was amended to require most employers to provide reasonable break times and locations for nursing mothers. Employers with less than 50 workers remain exempt, and none must pay mothers during breaks. A beefed-up federal bill was reintroduced in Congress in May.