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8 Things I Bet You Didn't Realize about Working and Breastfeeding Employment Laws
May 15, 2014

Hello and thank you for joining So glad we both have interest in breastfeeding!

In this issue...

  • 8 Things I Bet You Didn't Realize about Working and Breastfeeding Employment Laws
  • New Articles on the Website
  • Good Read on the Topic: State Breastfeeding Laws
  • Product Review: Double Blessings San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow - Mom's Perfect Companion for Discreet Nursing!
  • Questions and Comments

What Breastfeeding Employment Laws Really Mean and What They Don't...

Does it ever happen to you that you read a legal document and have no clue what it really says, not to mention what it implies?

When you return to work after maternity leave, knowing and understanding employment laws and the rights they grant you is important. Why?

Full-time female employees and unemployed women initiate breastfeeding after giving birth at the same rate.

However, by the baby’s age of 6 months the number of full-time employed women still breastfeeding is 25% lower than that of unemployed. It becomes obvious that something happens after new moms return to work that negatively affects breastfeeding rates. But what is it?

Recent survey showed that in some states a shockingly low percentage of respondents (only 28%) reported that their companies provide lactation support programs.

In fact, the overall statistics of corporate lactation programs are much higher. Discrepancy stems from poor organization and marketing of support programs, as well as failure to inform employees of the existence of such programs.

This made me wonder how many of us know and take advantage of our companies' lactation support programs.

What you don’t know can hurt you… and your milk supply.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010 requires US companies to provide a functional place, other than a bathroom, for breast milk expression.

It also gives employees the right for reasonable break time to express milk for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such break is needed.

I am sure the text of the law is not new to you, especially since it is often discussed in media. The tricky part is figuring out what the law really says, what it implies and what it doesn’t:

  1. The law doesn't describe what a lactation room should look like.
  2. There are no specifications about what the room should be, neither in terms of size, nor in terms of quality, equipment and amenities present. It only has to

    • be free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, so it should either be private or shielded
    • be available ANY time ANY mother may need it
    • be functional for milk expression, so it should have something to sit on and put the pump on

  3. Your employer doesn’t have to pay for any time exceeding regular break time.
  4. So if all employees are entitled to two 15-minute breaks and you need extra time to pump, it is unpaid.

  5. You can't be working during unpaid break time.
  6. You have to be COMPLETELY relieved from your job duties, if you take extra unpaid break time to pump. No one can make you pump at your desk while working.

  7. The law only covers non-exempt employees (hourly employees entitled to overtime pay).
  8. If you are a salaried employee (the one not entitled to overtime pay), I still encourage you to communicate your breastfeeding goals to your HR and management.
    For all the hard work and time you put in, there should be something they can do to help.

  9. Not every company has to abide by the law.
  10. Companies with less than 50 workers do not have to abide by the Federal law, if it imposes undue hardships (financial and emotional) on the employer.
    It is good to know that the employer has to prove his case of undue hardships to the federal government and get a government exemption for each employee covered by the law?
    So if you work for a small company, do not automatically assume that you are not covered. Inquire with your HR department.

  11. You can file a complaint.
  12. If your rights are violated, you can file a complaint with the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor by calling 1-866-487-9243.
    You will need to give them your name, address, phone number, job title, how you are paid, your baby’s date of birth, company name, address and phone number, and what bothers you.

  13. There is a "no retaliation" rule.
  14. If you file a complaint, what you may not know is that it is illegal for your employer to discriminate or retaliate against you.

  15. State employment laws that are more favorable to working mothers, overrule the Federal law.
  16. Find out about your state laws (see "good read" section below for link).

Knowing is half the battle, so win yours by learning about your rights and communicating your breastfeeding goals to your boss.

With the breastfeeding and work being such a heightened topic these days, chances are your company will become your strongest support group.

Does your company follow the law and provide support to nursing mothers? Share your story here and with your permission I can create a page on my website devoted to your story!

New Articles on the Website:

Maternity Leave Laws and FMLA
What is Short-Term Disability Maternity Leave?
How to Plan Your Return to Work After Maternity Leave
Employer Support to Working and Breastfeeding Mothers
Working and Breastfeeding Employment Laws (Part 1)
Working and Breastfeeding Employment Laws (Part 2)
How to Combine Work and Pumping

Good Read on the Topic:

NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) is a good resource for state breastfeeding employment laws.

It also talks about the legislature on breastfeeding in public. Check it out: State Breastfeeding Laws

Related Product Review:

This product has been my favorite for a while now. Eco-friendly nursing pillow with non-flammable fiber (NOT foam!) inside and a privacy cover for discreet nursing.

It is called San Diego Bebe® Eco-Nursing Pillow. I call it Mom's Perfect Companion.

Great to use at home or if you have your baby brought to you at work for nursing sessions, it will do a great job for you in the lactation room.

You can read my review, watch it and order directly from the manufacturer. I am sure you will enjoy this pillow, as much as my son and I did!

Read review

Watch review


Questions and Comments:

I try to organize my newsletters around your interests in breastfeeding or concerns that you may have.

If you have an interest in a specific breastfeeding topic or would like me to review a particular breastfeeding-related product, let me know here. I will research, review and share with you. You can also submit questions and comments by responding to this newsletter.

Feel free to forward this newsletter to other moms. The more, the merrier!

There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.



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