Employers will need to provide break time for mothers to express breast milk while at work under legislation that passed the General Assembly Friday.

House Bill 1090 requires employers to provide a private area that is not a bathroom for employees to express breast milk. Break times for that purpose would have to last for “a reasonable duration” and could not cut into an employee’s paid leave or salary.

Those rules would apply for school districts, government agencies and businesses with 50 employees or more, but not for employees working remotely.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees would be given leeway to skip the requirements if creating private break rooms for employees to express breast milk would create “an undue hardship” either from cost or space constraints.

Sponsored by Rep. Debra Silcox, R-Sandy Springs, the bill passed out of the state Senate Thursday by a 45-1 vote. Sen. Bill Heath, R-Bremen, opposed it.

The bill then cleared the state House Friday evening by a 150-13 vote. It now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.

Silcox’s bill mirrors legislation brought in the Senate earlier in the 2020 legislative session by Sen. Zahra Karinshak, D-Duluth.

Speaking from the Senate floor Thursday, Karinshak said the bill would help working moms in Georgia care for their newborns without fear of losing their jobs.

“It is a wonderful day for working families in Georgia to pass this bill,” Karinshak said.

Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, agreed the measure would help Georgia women as well as their children who would also benefit from the workplace protections.

“Let us never forget that we have come full circle to understand that mother’s milk is what the infant needs,” Orrock said.