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By: Tim Boughey
The Georgia state legislature recently weighed in on the issue of lactation breaks by passing “Charlotte’s Law.” Before August 5, 2020, Georgia employers largely followed the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s lactation break requirements to provide an employee with a reasonable amount of unpaid break time and a space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother, for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child. The former Georgia lactation law (O.C.G.A. § 34-1-6) did not require much more than the FLSA – so it took a back burner to the federal requirements.
Now, Georgia public and private employers need to do more and comply with “Charlotte’s Law,” which is more robust than the FLSA in its requirements. In short, Charlotte’s law requires most Georgia employers to provide reasonable break time to working mothers who desire to express breast milk at their worksite during working hours in a safe location near the employee’s workspace. Like the FLSA, restrooms do not satisfy the “safe location” requirement. Unlike the FLSA, Georgia’s law applies to all employees, requires PAID break time and includes no one-year time limit on granting of lactation breaks. Charlotte’s Law requires employers to pay the employee at the employee’s regular rate for the lactation break. If an employee is salaried, employers cannot require employees to use paid leave for such breaks or reduce their salary because of the breaks.
The amended O.C.G.A. § 34-1-6 now applies to Georgia private employers with one or more employees. The law does create an undue hardship exemption for employers with fewer than 50 employees where compliance would cause significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the business.
For employers with teleworking or traveling employees, Charlotte’s Law does not require a paid lactation break for any employee working away from their worksite. But employers should continue to follow federal requirements.
Notably, Charlotte’s Law also created O.C.G.A. § 45-1-7, which applies the same rules to public employers, except public sector employers can avoid liability for making reasonable efforts to comply with Charlotte’s Law.
Here is the final legislation: http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20192020/195281.pdf.
If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Timothy Boughey at [email protected].