You may not be familiar with the law—it was, after all, tucked away inside President Obama’s health care reform legislation—but it exists, and it is a law aimed squarely at protecting women who choose to breastfeed their babies or pump breast milk at work.
Part of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March 2010, the breastfeeding portion of the bill, amends the Fair Labor Standards Act, making it mandatory for the first time that employers provide women with adequate break times to breastfeed their children or pump their breast milk.
While the rules for the law have not been finalized at this time, enough information has been made available to allow the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour division to go after employers who are not allowing women enough time to pump.
According to the agency, twenty-three companies have already been cited, and some have been fined and ordered to pay employees for lost wages.
Labor department spokeswoman Sonia Melendez tells MSNBC:
“The department intends to continue enforcing the law based on the statutory language,” she said. “Until the department issues final guidance, the request for information provides useful information for employers to consider in establishing policies for nursing employees.”
In the meantime, the agency admits that smaller firms have had a harder time complying with the law because space is at a premium and staff is usually in short demand when needed.
While some smaller companies have not been in compliance, it is larger organizations that have been targeted for fines including Dollar General, Dillard’s, Starbucks, and McDonalds.
Employers can learn more by calling 1-866-487-9243 or by simply visiting the laws Department of Labor fact sheet:(http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs73.htm)
Breast-feeding at work now protected by law: http://lifeinc.today.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/01/04/9922427-breast-feeding-at-work-now-protected-by-law#.TwUcUCTmPGs.facebook
Mother Breastfeeding a Child © 2012 James Johnson