Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pumping Time for Working Moms

by Glenni Lorick, IBCLC

Recently an employee at a large company asked me about pumping. The supervisor was only allowing nursing mothers on a 12 hour shift to pump at lunch and during two 15 minute breaks. She wondered if that was okay.

According to the law, it is definitely NOT okay. In fact, it is downright illegal! The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that hourly employees be given as much time as necessary to pump their milk as well as a place to pump that is NOT a bathroom.

How Often Can I Pump?

The law does not set any specific time limits on how often you can pump. But nursing mothers often need to pump at least every 3 hours to maintain a good supply. So it is not unreasonable to expect a mother working a 12 hour shift to need to pump about 4 times. Depending on how her body responds to the pump, she may need to pump for 15-20 minutes, then she needs to have time to get set up and to clean up afterwards. Obviously a pre-mandated 15 minute break is simply not adequate for most moms.

What If I Don't Work for a Big Company?

While it is true that the companies who employ a total of fewer than 50 people MAY be exempt, those companies are NOT automatically exempt. It is up to the company to prove a genuine hardship would be sustained if they had to meet the requirements of the law.
From The Primal Parent

What If I Am Not Paid Hourly?

At this point the law does not specifically address salaried employees, only hourly employees. However, measures have been introduced to change that. The Supporting Working Mothers Bill did not pass last year, but breastfeeding advocates will continue to push legislators to extend pumping benefits to all working mothers.

What if My Employer Refuses to Comply?

While it is true that Alabama is a fire-at-will state, the law is very specific about mothers who receive recrimination or any harassment for demanding their pumping rights. If you think you have been discriminated against because you expected your employer to follow the law, you can file a complaint here.

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