Health Care Reform Boosts Support for Employed Breastfeeding Mothers
With the inclusion of this provision in health care reform legislation, the U.S. joins the rest of the industrialized world in recognizing breastfeeding as the natural outcome of pregnancy, and workplace lactation programs as the natural outcome of a society where the majority of mothers and infants are separated due to work.
The reform bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. 207, by requiring that an employer provide: (1) ”a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk,” and (2) ”a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
This amendment does not require employers to compensate employees for time spent taking a “reasonable break” to “express milk.” Furthermore, this amendment does not apply if (1) an employer employs fewer than 50 employees and (2) the “reasonable breaks” would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
If you are a Nevada Employer and have not already done so, you are strongly encouraged to begin complying with this law establishing adequate areas for nursing mothers to take breastfeeding breaks for up to one year following the birth of a child. These nursing areas must be shielded from view and free from intrusion. Employers should also note that the amendment does not set a limit on the number of breastfeeding breaks a nursing mother can take; it allows for a break “each time” the nursing mother needs to “express breast milk.”
If you have questions regarding aspects of the healthcare reform legislation related to Nevada employers, please contact us:
Jacquelyn Bonde, MPH
Statewide Breastfeeding Coordinator