Last year, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended to require employers to provide a reasonable break time and a non-bathroom private place for nursing mothers to express breast milk for one year after their child’s birth. The requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010.
A notice in the December 21, 2010 Federal Register indicates that employers have asked for further guidance on this measure, and asks for public comment on aspects such as what is “reasonable” break time. The National Partnership for Women and Families translates the key questions for public comment into the following terms, less technical than wading through the Federal Register document.
1. Have you ever had to use a room connected to a bathroom to pump breast milk at work? Was it completely closed off or private? Was it a good or bad environment — and why?
2. Have you ever had to pump breast milk in a room normally used for something else — like a locker room, storage room or closet, or a manager’s office? Was it a good or bad environment — and why?
3. Have you ever had to pump breast milk in a shared space — one shared by other employees or employees from other nearby employers, like in a shopping mall or airport? What provisions for privacy worked or didn’t work?
4. Have you tried to keep breastfeeding/pumping in a job that requires you to be on the move—like driving a vehicle, visiting clients off-site, or patrolling a neighborhood? How did you make this work and how did your employer help (or fail to) support you?
The organization also provides a way to submit comments directly through their website. You may also submit your comments individually by going directly through Regulations.gov, where the link to a PDF of the Federal Register document detailing questions and issues related to the provision is available for download.
Comments are due by February 22, 2011.