Oregon Breastfeeding Law Set to Kick in January 1

June 21, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A bill recently signed by Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski and scheduled to take effect January 1, 2008 requires employers with at least 25 employees to give breastfeeding mothers reasonable unpaid rest periods to express milk.

A news report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said, unless otherwise agreed to by the employer and the employee, the law requires employers to give workers a 30-minute rest period for expressing milk during each four-hour work period.

The law mandates the breastfeeding breaks unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the business. The bill defines “undue hardship” as “significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature or structure of the employer’s business.”

According to the Oregon bill, an employee coming back to work after maternity leave is obligated to provide her employer reasonable notice that she intends to express milk when she comes back to the office. If possible, employees should take the rest periods to express milk at the same time as rest periods that are otherwise provided to them, the bill said.

Also under the new law , employers must make “reasonable efforts” to provide a room or location, other than a public restroom or toilet stall, in proximity to the employee’s work area for the employee to express milk in private.

The Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries is authorized to fine violators not more than $1,000, according to the SHRM news report.

Eleven other states have laws related to breastfeeding in the workplace, according to a bill summary prepared by the Senate Committee on Business, Transportation and Workforce Development. Those states are California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.