August 7, 2014 — Under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), employers are required to provide time and space for women to express breast milk until their child's first birthday, a recent editorial in Pediatrics notes, Reuters reports.
NIH's Tonse Raju, author of the editorial, wrote that that the ACA could help improve U.S. breastfeeding rates. However, the impact of the law is difficult to assess because many health care providers, employers and employees are unaware of the breastfeeding provisions, Raju noted.
The ACA also stipulates that employers must give women a "reasonable amount of time" to pump or breastfeed; allow them to do so as often as necessary; and provide a private, clean room that is not a restroom.
In addition, if employers compensate other employees for break times, they also are required to compensate women who use their break time to breastfeed or pump. Further, women who work while they express milk must be paid normally, according to the ACA.
However, employers with fewer than 50 workers can qualify for an exemption from the law's breastfeeding requirements if the rules pose an "undue hardship" for the employer, according to Reuters.
Women whose employers do not follow the law can file verbal or written complaints with the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division. Women who file complaints are protected from discrimination under the Fair Labor Standards Act's prohibition on retaliation, according to Reuters (Doyle, Reuters, 8/5).