There are different reasons for women to breastfeed their babies, which includes infant and maternal benefits, cost savings and convenience. However, those requiring going outside the home do express concerns of how breastfeeding can be continued upon their returning to work. The maternal stress related to returning back to work includes childcare needs, work-life balance, fear and infant/maternal separation. “Will I be in a position to pump” is considered to be the major concern for many!

Latest protection for breastfeeding working mothers

Since working women are occupied in different settings like hospital operating rooms and construction sites, it is indeed a concern as to where and when can be sanitarily and safely pump her breast milk. Breastfeeding mother protection has been established by amending the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act in March 2010 According to Breastfeeding and returning to Work law, majority of the employers are required by this legislation to have breastfeeding women to be granted with “reasonable time  to express her nursing one year child with breast milk after birth of the child each time” and to provide “an appropriate place” other than the bathroom, which needs to be free from public and coworker intrusion and shielded from view. It is to be used exclusively for expressing breast milk by the employee.

Such law is assumed to protect the rights of the mothers. But unfortunately, not every person is safeguarded by this law.

Not every mother is covered!

Not every employee will be able to qualify for this benefit. Those not covered under this existing law (Federal Labor Standards Act) could be denied legally this provision, unless it is dictated by the state laws. Hence, getting to know the rights can be a bit confusing. Consulting with the employer can be a great idea to know the set company policy. Organizations employing lesser than 50 workers may find it tough to provide women returning to work while breastfeeding with the necessary break time and space.

Labor Department does not cover some of the below mentioned employee examples

  • Professional, administrative and executive employees like academic administrative personnel including teachers in secondary and elementary schools) skilled computer professionals and outside sales employees.
  • Employed foreign vessel seamen
  • Employees of specific small telephone switchboard and newspaper operators
  • Employees of specific recreational or seasonal amusement establishments
  • Those engaged with fishing operations
  • Engaged with newspaper delivery
  • Casual employed as companions for the infirm or the elderly and babysitters
  • Those working on small farms

Are women paid when taking milk expression breaks?

Yes & No! Wages are not required to be provided legally by the employers, if time is used outside the current compensated breaks of the company by the woman. An exception to it is if the person has not been fully relieved from duty, until the time when wages accrue.

Discussing with the company manager or HR department can help the woman to better understand the policies governing milk expression breaks. In case, still the woman finds that she is being denied this provision, then it will be useful to consult a good legal advisor.


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