Working Moms

Back to work after baby…Speak with your employer

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When you are preparing yourself to go back to work and pump after having your baby, it’s important that you first know your legal rights when it comes to pumping at work and then make sure that you discuss your plans with your employer prior to your return.

Having that open communication and dialog about what you are doing and what you will need, will make it a lot easier for you and for your employer. Just showing up on your first day back without a plan in place will make it very difficult for everyone to understand and accommodate your nursing needs.

In 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that require an employer to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for at least one year after that child’s birth; each time that that employee has the need to express her milk. Employers are also required to provide a private place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from other coworkers and the public.

The employer is not required to compensate an employee for any work time spent expressing milk. Now, the law also states that if that employer has less than 50 employees, and these requirements impose undue hardship on the business, they are not subject to these laws and requirements. That is why it is so important that you are knowledgable about the law and your rights for the particular employment situation that you’re in and for the state in which you live.

Employers are also not required to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.

These are your rights under the law. Knowing your rights and educating your employer may be necessary. Depending on the knowledge base of your employer, you may want to print out some information regarding the Affordable Care Act and the provisions for nursing moms that I have discussed here for them to review. You may the first one doing this and will need to lead the way for yourself, future nursing co-­‐ workers and your company as a whole.

Being as open and direct as possible about what you will need, when you will need it, and how…is going to be critical here. The more preparation and time the better. Stay flexible and work together to create a schedule that takes care of everyone’s needs, but always remember that your baby comes first and nothing should get in the way of being able to express your milk.

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