Did you know women now make up over half of the workforce? Did you also know that the fastest growing segment in America is women with children under the age of three? If you’re breastfeeding your little one and plan to return to work, you probably have questions regarding your legal rights to pump at work. In our second installment of our working moms blog series we will cover what you need to know about pumping at work. Let’s get started!
Do I have the right to pump at work?
Under federal law, the answer is a complicated “maybe”. The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare”, requires employers to allow women to pump breast milk while they are at work. However, if you read closely there are a few loopholes to take note of.
For starters, in order to be covered your employer must have 50 or more employees. If your company does not have at least 50 employees, your employer must still comply with the law unless it can prove that it would be an “undue hardship” to do so. Thankfully, the Department of Labor has made the standards for “undue hardship” an incredibly high standard to meet.
It is also important to note that only those women who are considered “non-exempt” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are covered. Non-exempt employees are generally hourly works who receive overtime pay. If you are in a supervisory position and make more than $455/week, unfortunately you may be exempt and thus not covered under the federal breastfeeding law.
If you are covered, your employer must provide reasonable break time to express milk as well as a private space that is not a bathroom where you will not be bothered by your coworkers or even customers.
Are pumping breaks paid?
Your pumping breaks are not required to be paid; that is unless your coworkers receive paid breaks. Although this may be true, some courts have ruled that employers cannot discriminate against breastfeeding employees. Basically, if your male coworker is allowed to take a similar break as you but he chooses to smoke, you cannot be fired for taking a break to pump milk.
How often can I pump at work?
Mommies – pay attention…it is not up to your employer to dictate your pumping times at work. The law is incredibly clear and states it is according to the mother’s schedule of lactation that is best for her and her babies.
It is important to stay on schedule with your pumping routine at work. Not only is it beneficial for increasing and/or maintaining milk supply, but also for avoiding plugged milk ducts, or even worse, mastitis. If you experience engorgement at work you should express milk as soon as possible as this could lead to more serious medical issues.
I’m not sure if I’m covered under the Affordable Care Act
You’re not alone. If you’re unsure if you fall under federal breastfeeding law protection, check with your local employment attorney, or check out section 4207 of the Affordable Care Act.
Continuing to breastfeed while working has its challenges but it is possible. First, you’ll need a breastpump! The Affordable Care Act also requires most insurance companies to provide breastfeeding support, services, and equipment to new and expectant women. Aerflow Breastpumps makes this process fast and easy. Head over to our Qualify Through Insurance form and in 3 minutes you’ll be on your way to a new breastpump! What you need to know about pumping at work does not stop here; do your research, know your rights, and make sure you’re prepared when you head back to work with the best breastpump and accessories! For questions regarding your breastpump eligibility feel free to give us a call at 844-867-9890. We look forward to hearing from you!