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The Spiggle Law Firm

The US and State Workplace Breastmilk Express Laws You Need to Know

pump at work

pump at work


Even though the United States is the only high-income nation without guaranteed paid maternity leave for workers, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, most states still given women rights to express breast milk at work.

There are patchwork extra protections provided by states, and some do not apply to all workers or employers, explains employment lawyer Tom Spiggle of The Spiggle Law Firm in Washington, DC.

Federally, new moms benefit from a relatively new law called the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law which was part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act from 2010 which amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Specifically, the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law requires employers to provide a suitable workplace location and reasonable time to break from work to do so until the mother’s child  turns one-year old.

This law gave relief to many moms who had been forced to pump milk in unsanitary bathrooms and possibly docked pay or penalized for taking time to pump.

The  National Conference of State Legislatures reports that 29 states plus the District of Columbia have at least some sort of workplace breastfeeding laws in effect which are similar to the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law. For the most part, they require employers to provide unpaid break times and reasonable locations (other than a bathroom) where an eligible employee can express breast milk. Some of these jurisdictions include:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado

A complete list of the other 27 states, along with the corresponding statutes, can be found at the NCSL’s Breastfeeding State Laws website.

NEW Universal Paid Family Leave For All Now In Effect in DC – Even Self-Employed

woman with laptop in office

Anyone who works in DC for a year, for at least 50% of their time, even if he or she teleworks or works remotely for a DC-based employer will be eligible to receive about $1,000 per week for up to 16 weeks of paid family leave, thanks to a new law that just went into effect in the Nation’s Capital.

This new benefit which many new mothers (and dads) will likely take advantage of after having a baby is now being funded thanks to a new law that started July 1 called the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act.

DC businesses have now started paying into a special payroll tax to fund the pool of money for eligible employees who will receive between 70 and 90 percent of their average weekly wage (or combined wage, if working multiple jobs), as summarized by Employment lawyer Tom Spiggle of the Spiggle Law Firm who penned a recent LinkeIn article summarizing the new universal benefit.

“Another benefit of the program is that it isn’t limited to just full-time employees,” Spiggle explains. “Seasonal and temporary workers may be eligible for paid-leave benefits, although their eligibility will depend on when their employer reports their wages, as well as when the qualifying event occurs.”

That’s great news for contractors, freelancers and other “Self-employed individuals, including those working in the ‘gig economy,’ can receive paid leave benefits too,” Spiggle states.

To calculate an exact amount a worker can expect per week, check out this Weekly Benefit Calculator.

Spiggle summarized some of the most important aspects of the new law and these two stood out:

What happens if an employer improperly denies benefits?

The worker may sue his or her employer and can recover lost compensation, interest, liquidated damages (this can potentially triple the lost compensation award) and reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.

Will my employer explain how this works?

Yes. The D.C. Paid Family Leave program requires employers to post notices at the office or worksite where employment rights notices are typically posted. Additionally, the employer must remind all workers of their rights at least once a year, an individual worker within 30 days of hiring and whenever a worker provides notice of a qualifying event that will result in taking paid family leave.

Will changing jobs reduce or terminate D.C. Paid Family Leave benefits?

No. As long as a worker’s new job is still with a covered employer, their paid leave benefits eligibility will be unaffected by the job change. ‘

Read his complete piece here!

Great news all around!

Photo by Humphrey Muleba from Pexels