|Posted:||March 24, 2015 03:27 PM|
|From:||Senator Charles T. McIlhinney, Jr.|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Memo #13 - Workplace Accommodations for Nursing Mothers|
|In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation that requires all employers in the Commonwealth to provide a private, sanitary space for employees who need to express breast milk.
Study after study makes it clear – both mothers and children benefit from breast milk. For most babies, especially premature babies, breast milk is easier to digest than formula and helps fight against disease. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the cells, hormones, and antibodies in breast milk help protect babies from illness. For mothers, breastfeeding is linked to a lower risk of health problems such as diabetes, breast and ovarian cancers, and postpartum depression. Moreover, breastfeeding mothers miss fewer days from work because their infants are sick less often.
The only applicable law on breastfeeding that applies to employers in the Commonwealth is the Affordable Care Act’s amendment to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This federal law requires employers to provide a private, sanitary space for non-exempt employees to express milk for up to one year after the birth of a child. However, exempt employees include those that are on salary (exempt from federal overtime provisions), often in managerial positions.
My legislation will fix two main loopholes in federal law. For one, it will apply to all employees, including those that are exempt from federal overtime provisions. Secondly, my bill will require employers to provide a private, sanitary space for mothers to express milk beyond one year after birth. However, my legislation will mirror the federal provision that exempts small employers from these requirements if they would present an undue hardship to the employer.
This legislation is a commonsense approach to improving the health and welfare of women and children alike. I invite you to sign on as co-sponsor to this important bill.
Introduced as SB1196