New Breastfeeding Law to Help Working Moms

By Jason Beahm on February 01, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

When it comes to breastfeeding at work, times are changing. MSNBC recently profiled mother Stacey Weiland, who said that when she was a new mother, she received little sympathy from colleagues who saw her requests to breastfeed as an inconvenience, like going out to smoke.

Women returning to jobs after childbirth often have had to choose between breastfeeding at work and their jobs, according to Chris Mulford, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee. However, under the new health care law, that is about to change across the nation. (That is, assuming that the law isn't overturned or repealed.)

The Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act and will impact nursing law and breastfeeding at work. Now the Department of Labor is setting out guidelines for the new nursing law, which will including the following provisions:

  • Nursing spaces must be made available, and in a place other than a bathroom.
  • Women must be allowed to nurse at work for up to one year.
  • Employers must provide a reasonable amount of time for actual breastfeeding or pumping.
  • Employers do not need to pay women for time spent breastfeeding
  • Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt if they can establish an undue hardship.

However, these provisions are just guidelines at this point. The Department of Labor has requested public comment prior to writing the guidelines for the new nursing law, through Feb. 22.

"This is a huge step for women's equality and average women should weigh in," Portia Wu, vice president for the National Partnership for Women & Families, told MSNBC.

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