Exposing Breasts in the Workplace: Part of Healthcare!

Ok now that I have your attention, get your mind out of the gutter. This has to deal with the Healthcare bill. The Healthcare Bill, officially, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the “fix-it” bill being signed today, contains a broad spectrum of issues to which we must pay attention. The items are diverse and include not just insurance regulations, but also requirements to post caloric values of foods by all fast food restaurants, taxes on medical devices and drugs, taxes on Medicare wages and even a revamping of the Pell Grant program. (Explain the healthcare implications of that one for me!)

One of the little known aspects of the PPACA is the requirement for companies to provide unpaid breastfeeding breaks. This is an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and “….requires employers to provide reasonable, unpaid break time to employees who are nursing mothers to express breast milk for their infants. The Act amends section 207 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and requires an employer to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. The employer shall also make reasonable efforts to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.” (Source: Smith Gambrell & Russell, LLC Client Alert, March 25, 2010.)

Employers of fewer than 50 employees are exempt from this amendment if “…such breaks would ‘impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.'” Hmmm… how do you really deny this one regardless of the size of the company?

One challenge here is recording of this time so you can make it non-paid. I think it would cost more to attend to the recording of time than it would be to just allow the mothers the time to perform this act. So a possible solution is just make it paid break time. But of course then you will have to deal with all the whinny men and women who don’t get this paid break time. However, it would put them on par with all the smokers who take unathorized breaks to get their fix.

Anyone have a suggestion on what is going to be the best way to deal with this? I am all ears.

1 thought on “Exposing Breasts in the Workplace: Part of Healthcare!”

  1. Regarding the private place for expressing breast milk: No doubt there are lots of empty offices vacated by downsized employees available. Any office with a door and solid walls will do – she will need a comfortable chair and table for the pump and milk. She will also need a refrigerator or freezer to store the milk once expressed.

    The woman herself should be keeping track of the time spent tending to this activity. If she is salaried, it shouldn't matter, but in Wisconsin many years ago, many young mothers took a few minutes (about 10) twice a day and at lunch to express milk for their babies without hassle. And, by the way, they did it in the bathroom. A quiet private place is nice, but not really necessary, especially if Mom has a recording of her baby crying handy.

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