Workplace Policies for Nursing Mothers
The Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is a law that states that workers should be given ample break time and a comfortable place to express breast milk. In addition to the federal provision, some individual states also offer breastfeeding laws. Companies combine laws and company philosophies for key components for a nursing mother policy. The law also requires employers to put this policy in writing and share with employees.
Number of Breaks
Under PPACA, employers are required to give breastfeeding mothers breaks that give them ample time to express breast milk and also a private place to do so. The company does not have to pay the mother for breaks that go beyond the time frame of normal breaks she would receive during the work day, however. One part of the policy should state whether the employer pays for any of the additional breaks.
A Place to Nurse
PPACA also requires that companies set up a specific location for breastfeeding mothers. The law states that the place should not be a restroom. It should be out of view of others and private. This requirement is a challenge for smaller employers without the extra office space to set up a specific room to meet this requirement. However, if the company has less than 50 employees and setting up the space is an undue hardship, the requirement may be waived.
Paid or Unpaid?
Although the federal law does not require the company to pay for breaks outside of normally scheduled breaks, some states have implemented laws that do require employers to pay new mothers for extra breaks used to expel breast milk. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) states that the law that is most beneficial to the employee is the one that applies when federal and state laws conflict. In this case, if the company resides in a state where nursing breaks are paid as mandated by law, then the employer will need to pay the employee for these additional breaks.
Although the support of co-workers isn’t mandated by federal or state law, management and co-workers offering encouragement to the breastfeeding mother can help with employee morale. A simple statement added to the nursing policy shows workers that the company supports its workers’ needs. In addition, the leadership of a company sets the overall tone for how co-workers react to a nursing mother who is perhaps taking more breaks than a non-nursing employee. A written policy avoids any questions or misunderstandings about nursing breaks.