Pumping in the Workplace

What a lot of moms and employers do not realize is that our new healthcare regulations support mothers pumping at work (the “new” Federal regulations went into place in 2010).  Yes, there are some obvious concerns about the legislation–the most important being–does it have “teeth?”.  Meaning, if an employer is non-compliant how is the issue resolved, but we have to start somewhere.

Here is a copy of the new Federal regulations,  This fact sheet was prepared by the US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.  It is a great sheet for moms to provide their employers when they are planning on returning to work and need to discuss their pumping needs.

The good things about the new regulations:

1) There is a law supporting pumping in the workplace

2) Employers (who employee at least 50 employees) must provide “reasonable break time” for pumping

3) The reasonable time is defined as “as frequently as needed by the nursing mother”

4) A bathroom or non private area is NOT acceptable, “Employers are also required to provide ‘a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public’ ”

5) Although employers with less than 50 employees are not subject to the law, they have the burden of PROVING “undue hardship”

6) Although mothers will not be compensated for their pumping time, they can use regularly allotted paid break times to pump

7) The Federal regulations will not preempt State laws that may provide greater protections to the mother (however, state laws regarding pumping in the workplace are often nonexistent [such is the case here in NJ])

The cons:

1) The law only supports pumping in the work place until the infant is one year of age

2) Employers who do not have at least 50 employees are NOT subject to compliance if adherence would cause them “undue hardship”

3) “Reasonable break time” is not well defined and it puts mom in an awkward position to define/defend her pumping needs

4) There is no defined course of action or “punishment” if the employer is non-compliant

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