Yesterday, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed a bill requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodation to employees who seek to breastfeed. Bill No. 130922, which was first introduced by City Councilman David Oh in December 2013, amends the City’s business codes to make it an unlawful business practice for an employer in the City with one or more employees to fail to provide reasonable accommodation for someone to express or pump breast milk.

The legislation defines “reasonable accommodation” to include providing unpaid break time or permitting an employee to use her break or meal time, or both, to express breast milk. It also mandates that the employer must provide a safe, sanitary space that is not a bathroom where the employee may express breast milk. All covered employers must comply, as long as the requirements do not impose an undue hardship on the employer.

The bill adds to the protections provided under the 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to afford similar accommodations, but only to non-exempt employees. Additionally, it is one of several within the past year which strengthens the City’s commitment to mothers and family. In December 2013, Philadelphia adopted its first Parental Leave Policy for exempt City employees. The Parental Leave Policy, which applies to birth, adoptive, and foster mothers and fathers, including life partners, provides four weeks of paid parental leave for exempt employees who have at least six months of tenure in City government.

Further, in January 2014, the City signed legislation amending the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance to prohibit pregnancy-related discrimination and require employers to provide reasonable workplace accommodations for employees who have needs related to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.

This latest legislation takes effect immediately. For this reason, employers must ensure that their employees are informed of their right to breastfeed during breaks and are provided a sanitary private space to do so.

Ballard Spahr's Labor and Employment Group can assist employers with compliance issues. For more information, please contact Ashley L. Wilson at 215.864.8364 or wilsona@ballardspahr.com, or the member of the group with whom you work.


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