Committee approves bill to protect rights of lactating school employees

Mike Seals - February 9, 2021 10:14 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure to allow teachers and other school employees who are nursing the same rights as state and federal employees was passed unanimously Tuesday by the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Carri Hicks, D-OKC, is the author of Senate Bill 121 requiring school district boards of education to adopt a policy allowing school employees who are lactating to take paid break time to maintain their milk supply.

“There is nothing better a mother can do for her child’s health than to nurse. However, this is something that has to be done repeatedly throughout the day to maintain one’s milk supply,” Hicks said. “We need to make it as easy as possible for mothers to continue providing this nutritious milk for their babies by getting rid of the deterrents that force so many working mothers to quit nursing.”

Under the measure, the break time could run concurrently with any break time and school district boards of education would also be required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, sanitary room for employees to express milk or breastfeed their child.

Last year, the legislature passed SB 285 to require all state agencies to allow nursing mothers reasonable daily paid break times to pump to maintain their milk supply and personal comfort. The measure became law in November.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also requires employers to provide reasonable break times for employees to express breast milk for their nursing children for up to one year.

“I want to thank the members of the Education Committee for approving this commonsense bill that will extend the same rights and protections to mothers in our public schools as are provided to mothers working in the public sector and government,” Hicks said.

SB 121 now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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