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US Labor Department seeks comments on nursing mothers law
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division is requesting public comments on its preliminary interpretations of a new provision of the Fair Labor Standards Act that requires employers to provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time and a private space for expressing breast milk while at work. This new provision — the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law — became law when the Affordable Care Act was signed by the president in March 2010. The provision responds to a reality that many women face when they return to work after having a baby.
"Many women who want to continue breastfeeding their children simply can't because they do not have the necessary accommodations to do it," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "What the department is seeking to do is to develop guidance for employers that will assist them in complying with this new law and that will support women who choose to continue nursing once they return to work. And with input from the public — including working mothers and employers — we'll be successful in doing that."
The department will accept public comments in response to a request for information on its preliminary interpretations for the next 60 days — with a deadline of Feb. 22, 2011 — via http://www.regulations.gov.
In order to increase awareness of the new law and provide the public with access to additional resources related to workplace lactation programs, the department has launched a Web page at http://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers. Employers and employees are encouraged to visit the site. It provides general information and guidance that has been issued by the department on the new break time requirements for nursing mothers in the workplace, as well as a compilation of resources that employers, employees and other interested stakeholders might find useful as they develop workplace lactation programs. Many employers already have successfully implemented lactation programs using these and similar resources.
The Wage and Hour Division is responsible for administering and enforcing a number of federal labor laws, including the FLSA. The act's nursing mothers provision requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers also are required 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.
For information on federal laws concerning wage and hour issues, visit http://www.dol.gov/whd or call the Wage and Hour Division's toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243).