NEW LAW: Illinois Amends the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act

On August 21, 2018, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 1595 into law.  This new law amends the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act and expands the legal protections afforded to nursing mothers in Illinois.  The amendments to this law took immediate effect.

Under the existing law, Illinois employers with 6 or more employees are required to grant “reasonable unpaid break time” each day to an employee needing to express breast milk for her infant child.

The amended law makes the following changes to the existing law:

  • Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time” (instead of “unpaid break time”) each time an employee needs to express milk for one year following the child’s birth.
  • The “reasonable break time” may run concurrently with existing break time provided to employees (the original law provided that break time “must, if possible” run concurrently with other breaks).
  • Employers are prohibited from reducing an employee’s compensation for time spent for the purpose of expressing milk.
  • Employers must prove that an undue hardship exists in order to avoid providing the required breaks. “Undue hardship” is defined as an “action that is prohibitively expensive or disruptive” when considering its nature and cost, the overall financial resources of the facility, the overall financial resources of the employer, and the type of operation of the employer.

It is recommended that all Illinois employers review their lactation accommodation practices and ensure that they comply with the new law.