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Nursing Mothers Just Got More Rights

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On August 21, 2018, the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act was amended, effectively immediately, to require employers to provide breastfeeding employees reasonable paid breaks to express milk or nurse their infants for up to a year after birth. As long as the accommodations do not result in 'undue hardship' to the employers, employers must comply. Previously, the law only required employers to provide unpaid breaks.

This amendment is important given that it is more common for women to be the breadwinners for their families. According to the US Census Bureau (2013), 38% of women in the workforce gave birth in the previous 12 months. Further, women cite unsupportive workplace policies as one reason for weaning their babies earlier than they wanted to. The hope is that by creating supportive workplace policies and allowing women to express milk at work, mothers can breastfeed their babies longer.

If are an employee who is currently breastfeeding with a year of birth, do not hesitate to be clear about your expectations to pump or nurse at work. If you are an employer, be aware of this law so you can be compliant.

In addition to the new amendment, Illinois law requires that employers not discriminate against women due to pregnancy and must provide reasonable accommodations. Further, if you have at least one employee, employers must hang this Pregnancy Rights Notice Poster in a visible area (we recommend the breakroom).

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