New Breastfeeding in the Workplace Law for Hawaii

Hawaii Employers: Are you still compliant with the new labor laws?

Hawaii recently passed an amendment to the Employment Practices Law pertaining to workplace accommodation for breastfeeding.

Under this legislation, employers are required to provide reasonable time for breastfeeding employees as needed for up to one year after childbirth. Employers are also mandated to provide the employee with a private location (other than a restroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public for breastfeeding purposes.

Employers with fewer than 20 employees are exempt if that employer can show that the law would impose a significant expense or difficulty to their business.

A mandatory Breastfeeding in the Workplace poster is included with this law to explain the changes and notify employees.

Failure to comply with posting or enforcing the law results in a minimum $500 fine for each violation.

Hawaii’s state law takes precedence over the national Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as it offers greater protection to employees. You can read more about the FLSA here.

GovDocs offers this new Breastfeeding in the Workplace posting as part of our Hawaii All-On-One poster. To make sure you never miss out on mandatory state or federal labor law changes, join our Update Program and stay compliant!

For more information about the Hawaii Breastfeeding in the Workplace Act, Click here.

6 replies
  1. Jane Doe
    Jane Doe says:

    Who oversees compliance for this program? Is it like noise laws in Hawaii, on paper, but worthless? When I had my son a couple years ago, I had to use a locker area between a shower and the toilets to pump. I raised concerns about being in a bathroom and I was given a classroom. I know of at least two other mothers who pumped in the aforementioned kind of lockerroom area. No one checks on compliance with these types of things, not worth the time and money it takes to ensure compliance. I stopped pumping after just under two months of trying. Too much trouble coupled with the self-imposed pressure to get my work done. I wanted to give my son the benefit of getting breastmilk for his first year, but couldn’t.

    • Chaunce Stanton
      Chaunce Stanton says:

      First of all, the statute covers only employers with 20 or more workers. If you work for a smaller business, they don’t need to adhere to the statutes. Next, let’s talk about the lunch break. Section 378(a)(1) of the Hawaii statute reads: “An employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express milk for the employee’s nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time the employee has a need to express breast milk.” There is no mention of the employee being docked lunch time or having to work additional hours, etc., to compensate for the time spent expressing breast milk. Remember, this is a reasonable accommodation made by the employer – akin to reasonable accommodations made for disabled workers. If you have a situation you’re concerned about, please contact an employment attorney.

  2. Wondering
    Wondering says:

    I am wondering about “reasonable time”. I work in an office with a co-worker who is pumping. We have very limited space and there are no p private areas other than a bathroom. Therefore, I have to leave every time she pumps. She pumps at least four times a day for 15-20 minutes each time. She also expects me to leave if she pumps before or after work.

    I am all for breastfeeding and being allowed to pump at work, I nursed 3 children and pumped at work, but this is ridiculous! I can not get my work done because I can never be in my office and she spends half the day pumping! BTW- the work day is only 8-3. She is spending and hour and 20 minutes pumping, plus because she says she canʻt be required to pump on her lunch and her break, she takes an additional 45 minutes of non-pumping breaks, so now she is only working 70% of the work day and still getting 100% pay. This just does not seem to be right.

    • Chaunce Stanton
      Chaunce Stanton says:

      Thanks for the real-world example, Wondering.

      Any situation where one worker seems to have more leeway than another can result in long-term hard feelings – especially when the affected worker (you, in this case) is asked to make concessions that put a strain on your workload and impinge on your work space. The good news is that the situation is temporary. The bad news is that if she or another coworker have other children, the process will be repeated.

      In your situation, it sounds like you would have an excellent discussion around what constitutes “reasonable” accommodation and break time. If it’s not reasonable for other workers, when does the accommodation become an undue hardship?

      Have you spoken to your co-worker directly about your concerns? Have you talked to your supervisor about your concerns?

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