Human Resources 2

Human Resources for Dental Offices: Nursing mothers; Excessive restroom breaks

Oct. 20, 2014
Must nursing mothers be paid for their time expressing milk? Is employee who spends excessive time in the restroom truly disabled?

QUESTION: We provide breaks to new mothers for expressing milk during the day. Does this time have to be paid?
The new health reform law requiring employers to provide breaks for nursing mothers does not mandate that the break time be paid. However, if you reside in a state that has a law requiring paid breaks, then you should coordinate the paid break time with the break time needed for expressing milk and pay it accordingly. If additional time is needed for the nursing mother, then you can have the extra break time be unpaid.

QUESTION: We have an employee who uses the bathroom throughout the day excessively. Upon discussing this issue with the employee, she informed us that she has a disability. Is this for real? Do we have to accommodate this?
It could be real. There are some instances in which bladder problems could be considered a disability and therefore would require an employer to attempt to accommodate. You should begin by engaging in a “good faith interactive process” with this employee and her physician to determine: 1) if she is, in fact, disabled; 2) that she needs flexibility to use the bathroom as a reasonable accommodation; and 3) whether or not you can reasonably accommodate this without it causing “undue hardship,” which can be difficult to establish in the court system, so tread cautiously down this road. Of course, if this is an accommodation that you make, you can still hold the employee accountable for work performance as long as your actions are done legitimately and in a nondiscriminatory manner.

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Human Resources Tips for Dental Practices is provided by Tim Twigg and Rebecca Boartfield of Bent Ericksen & Associates. Tim Twigg is president and Rebecca Boartfield is a human resource compliance consultant with Bent Ericksen & Associates. For 30 years, the company has been a leading authority in human resource and personnel issues, helping dentists deal successfully with the ever-changing and complex labor laws. To receive a complimentary copy of the company’s quarterly newsletter or to learn more about its services, call (800) 679-2760 or visit