On Saturday, July 10, 2010, approximately 20 nursing mothers and their infants staged a Nurse-in at Kelly Park in Apopka, Florida. This event was organized by mothers who were told by lifeguards to either cover-up or leave the popular recreation area that features a free-flowing natural spring, full-service concession, camping, picnic areas and a playground.
Fla. Stat. § 383.015 (1993) allows a mother to breastfeed in any public or private location. (HB 231)
But does that include breastfeeding in the workplace?
Working moms are faced with many challenges including the delicate issues of balancing their careers with the shifting demands of motherhood. Even celebrities such as Kourtney Kardashian who have great flexibility with regard to their careers admit to their struggle with juggling priorities.
Help is on the way for nursing moms who must take care of lactation needs while maintaining their careers.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted March 23, 2010, requires employers subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide unpaid reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for a year after her child’s birth. This provision of the act becomes effective immediately. Employers’ must also provide a private place other than a bathroom where the employee can express breast milk. Employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt if these requirements would impose undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relations to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
Fla. Stat. § 383.016 (1994) authorizes a facility lawfully providing maternity services or newborn infant care to use the designation “baby-friendly” on its promotional materials. The facility must be in compliance with at least eighty percent of the requirements developed by the Department of Health in accordance with UNICEF and World Health Organization baby-friendly hospital initiatives. (SB 1668)
Fla. Stat. § 800.02 et seq. and § 827.071 exclude breastfeeding from various sexual offenses, such as lewdness, indecent exposure and sexual conduct.
Fla. Stat. § 847.0135 (5) (d) (2008) excludes a mother breastfeeding her baby from the offense of lewd or lascivious exhibition using a computer. (2008 Fla. Laws, Chap. 172, SB 1442)
Employers also benefit by supporting employees who are returning to work with lactation needs.
Benefits to the Employer:
- Reduced sick or personal leave for breastfeeding mothers because their infants are more resistant to illness
- Lower health care costs with healthier, breastfed infants
- Higher productivity on the job
- Increased levels of employee satisfaction and morale
- Recruitment incentive for women
- Family-friendly employers enjoy benefits of enhanced reputation