The U.S. DOL has already become sending out citations to companies violated its new breastfeeding rule signed into law with the healthcare reform bill. So far, 23 companies have been cited, including major corporations such as Dollar General, Dillard’s, Starbucks, and McDonald’s. The healthcare reform law amended the Fair Labor Standards Act by adding a rule for employers requiring that any employer having at least 50 eligible workers to provide breaks and a private room for the sole purpose of allowing nursing mothers to produce milk for their child.
Smaller employers with less than 50 eligible employees are exempt from the rule but only in the case that through allowing for a breastfeeding break, the employer would suffer significant expense or difficulty in its functioning. The rule is founded on research indicated that breastfed infants are less prone to illness than those fed with formula. The idea is that through encouraging breastfeeding, the healthcare system will experience less strain due to fewer incidence of disease in infants. Additionally, correlation has been shown between companies with liberal lactation policies and higher job satisfaction rankings.
The rule extends to mothers with children up to one year of age and must be provided with sufficient time to express and store the milk to take home. The breastfeeding area cannot be a bathroom and must be “shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.” Under the rule, employers are not required to compensate for the breaks unless the employer already provides compensated breaks in which case the nursing mother must be compensated in the same way as other employers.