New Lactation Room Law: Breastfeeding in the Workplace
It has been a long fought battle. Many nursing moms have asked for and lobbied for their places of employment to provide lactation rooms (a private place to breastfeed or pump milk for their baby). Now, many states are stepping up to the plate and putting laws in place to ensure that new mothers have a private place to conduct these necessary routines.
Oregon has the honor of being the first state to put in place a lactation room law in 2007. Most states now have in place some provision for breastfeeding mothers. Unfortunately, not many have lactation room laws that can be enforced, until now.
The Lactation Room Law
On March 30, 2010, President Barack Obama signed into law under the long debated health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Act includes a section that mandates an employer with more than 50 workers to provide a room, not a bathroom, in which the female employee can express breast milk for her child as needed. The female is not obligated to work for or otherwise compensate for the time spent on this task. This can be done until the child is one year old.
Who The Lactation Law Applies To
While small companies with less than 50 workers are ‘exempt’ so to speak, if they make more than $500,000 per year, they too have to abide by the law. The law also requires that any company that provides medical or nursing care services, schools and government agencies abide by the Act. It requires the provision of a private and clean lactation room for mothers of babies younger than one.
One Item Still Up For Debate
The law has been met with praise from most persons, especially women. There has been one main point of discontent in the wording of the lactation room law, however. The lactation room law states in part that the mother can “get an unpaid reasonable amount of time to pump breast milk while at work”. The problem is in interpreting what is a reasonable amount of time. Concerns have been raised that some companies could claim that a woman is taking too long to express her breast milk and demand compensation.
This has been a long time coming and is showing that the powers that be realize the importance of breast milk to a baby. Lactation rooms will enable mothers who want to breast feed or pump milk to do so in private. The embarrassment of having to breastfeed in public is understandable.