Gotta hand it to the government. Only the feds could make the act of expressing breast milk into a complicated procedure.
As you’ll remember, the recent healthcare reform legislation included a requirement that employers had to provide nursing mothers with “lactation breaks.”
Well, the Labor Department has released what it calls its “preliminary interpretations” of that requirement — along with a request for comment from the public — and there’s a lot to think about.
According to John Thompson, writing on law firm Fisher & Phillips Wage and Hour blog, here’s a rundown of some of the factors that go into determining how long a lactation break should be:
- how much time it takes to express the milk (DOL anticipates 15 to 20 minutes)
- time spent walking to and from the break location, and any time waiting to use the space
- time spent retrieving, unpacking, and setting-up a pump and related supplies
- the efficiency of the pump
- time spent in washing, in cleaning the pump and attachments, and in any related steps, taking into account whether there is a sink with running water nearby, and
- time spent storing the milk in a safe manner.
How many breaks will a nursing mother require during the workday? The DOL estimates that, typically, it’ll work out to two or three.
You’ll also have to make a suitable room available for activity — a place that’ll provide sufficient privacy for the mother to express the milk uninterrupted.
The deadline for submitting information and comments on the preliminary rules is Feb. 22, 2011. For a look at the full DOL guidance, go here.