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Breastfeeding moms, do you wish you had a place to pump at work? Well, here's good news: If you work for hourly wages at a place with more than 50 employees, your boss will be required to create a room that allows you to do just that. A new federal law, a provision of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, requires your workplace to provide a private, clean room (the bathroom doesn’t count) and (unpaid) break time to pump when you need to.
“You no longer have to plead with your manager for a way to store your milk or a place to plug in your breast pump,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in a conference call Monday. He was one of the early champions of requiring a pumping room at the workplace and passed a bill in Oregon in 2007 that served as a model for this new federal law. “This is about two simple concepts: privacy and breaks.” Oregon and some other states already have laws on the books regarding breastfeeding at work -- some state laws cover salaried women as well -- and federal employees will now also get pumping rooms.
Sen. Merkley said that it all started when a woman approached him in 2005, saying it would be great if providing such rooms were standard practice. “I told her about my wife, Mary, who went back to work at a hospital and how hard it was to make arrangements to pump,” he said. “There was no thought put into facilitating it. Now, I’m delighted to be involved in this bipartisan effort.”
“Studies have shown that supporting nursing mothers on the job can be a win-win for businesses and working women, because employers benefit from a combination of lower health care costs, employees taking less sick time, and the ability to retain experienced women as employees,” said Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Would you have breastfed longer if you had access to a "pumping room" at work? Chime in below!