Are your family friendly policies up-to-date?
For instance, it’s common to accommodate for lactation breaks in the workplace.
In fact, a breastfeeding law guarantees break time for new mothers who breastfeed and return to work.
For such moms, breaks mean preventing medical complications and pain as well nutritional problems for babies.
For employers with 50 or more workers, the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) allows for unlimited breastfeeding breaks for non-exempt employees.
The law excludes exempt employees who, of course, get a salary and aren’t eligible for other rights such as minimum wage and overtime. But they are given some flexibility in this regard.
Included in the law is support for some supplies such as a breast pump.
Some smaller businesses can be exempt unless they can prove undue hardship. Unfortunately, undue hardship isn’t defined by the law.
Here are some main points:
- Eligible moms should be permitted to take breaks whenever necessary.
- Frequency depends upon the needs of the baby or babies, the mother and her milk supply.
- Breaks should be allowed until the infant turns one-year-old.
- A private space must be provided and it must not be a bathroom and must literally be private.
- The breaks can’t be interrupted.
- Nursing breaks aren’t paid unless they’re regularly scheduled paid breaks. The mother can’t be required to perform her job duties while on break.
You can read the Department of Labor (DOL) guidance.
Note: Retaliation against nursing moms isn’t allowed.
Generally, breaks should last 15 to 20 minutes; two or three times per the woman’s shift.
Duration depends on whether the mom has access to electricity for a pump which is more efficient or whether she pumps manually.
The duration also depends on the accessibility of supplies and how far she must walk to the break room.
Some moms might prefer to refrigerate the breast milk onsite or bring her own cooler.
The law doesn’t require companies to supply a refrigerator.
But to maintain high morale and employee relations, it’s probably a good idea to supply one, especially if the company employs multiple nursing moms.
The law also allows for cities, municipalities and states to legislate their own nursing-break laws.
Many do; so beware of your local requirements.
Additionally, you might wish to verify whether your local laws permit you to advertise your company as family friendly in your recruitment advertising collateral.
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“The issue of women in the workplace is not a women’s issue: it’s an economic problem.”