Many new moms have enough on their minds without trying to keep up with the latest bills and amendments being discussed in their state legislature. For breastfeeding moms in Georgia, however, a proposed law in the state legislature could have a noticeable impact on how you pump at work. A new bill, known as Charlotte’s Law, has been proposed in the Georgia Senate that will offer more expansive protections for nursing moms who need to use a breast pump at work. Read below to learn more about what the current law of the land is, and what this proposed bill would mean for breastfeeding moms in Georgia.
What is the Current Law for Breastfeeding in Georgia?
Although the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was amended through the Affordable Care Act to protect moms who pump at work, there are still gaps in access to workplace breastfeeding resources. The vague language included in the current Georgia law says that employers may, but are not required to, provide unpaid break time and a private space for nursing mothers to express breast milk. This flexibility gives employers an excuse to not allow employees to take the time that they need to pump breast milk at work.
The current law in Georgia was problematic for at least one breastfeeding mother as she tried to pump at work. This woman, a public school teacher, was attempting to use a breast pump during one of her planned breaks when her supervisor told her that she could either stop pumping during her break or she could stay late after school to make up for the time she was using to pump. Because she was not protected by Georgia law, this working mother had to make a choice between expressing breast milk and being penalized at her job.
What Would Charlotte’s Law Change?
Inspired by the public school teacher mentioned above, Charlotte’s Law would amend the current legislation in place in Georgia and would establish clearer protections for breastfeeding moms in the workplace. Most notably, this law would change important language in the bill, stating that employers “shall” provide reasonable break time, instead of the current wording that says employers “may provide reasonable unpaid break time” for expressing breast milk.
This distinction places the burden on employers to ensure their employees receive this necessary time to pump, rather than on working moms to squeeze this time into a busy workday. Additionally, this amendment replaces vague language relating to where employees can pump. Charlotte’s Law states that employers “shall” provide a private space to pump that is not in a restroom, which is essential in helping moms keep their expressed breast milk sterile.
What Do Breastfeeding Moms Need in the Workplace?
While the changes included in this Georgia bill may seem small, they are critical revisions that better protect breastfeeding moms in the workplace. Taking time during the day to pump breast milk does not use much more time than what many employees use for smoke breaks. In most businesses, employees breast pumping for 15 minutes every few hours will not cause undue harm to the success of a company or an employer.
Nursing moms need a safe, clean, and private place to pump, as well as understanding and cooperation from coworkers and managers, to breast pump during the workday. The transition back to work after having a baby is challenging enough, and small changes in a workplace can make all the difference to a sleep-deprived, emotionally exhausted new mom who is doing her best to provide breast milk to her little one.
Breastfeeding is not easy, but the benefits for moms and babies are enough for moms to take on the challenge of breast pumping at work. As laws continue to be amended, employers can take proactive steps to look out for their employees, and breastfeeding moms returning to work can educate themselves on their rights and make their needs clear.
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