A bipartisan bill to mandate a break for lactating mothers has cleared a sub-panel of the House Commerce and Labor Committee.
H.B. 1080 would require Virginia employers to provide a reasonable, unpaid break time for nursing moms to express breast milk for up to one year after a child’s birth. The bill would also require employers to provide a secluded space, other than a bathroom, for an employee to pump. The measure is sponsored by Hampton Roads Delegate, David Yancey (R-94) who says it addresses a concern first brought to his attention by moms in his district.
Yancey, a Republican, presented the measure to a House subcommittee earlier this week and appeared alongside Richmond Democratic Delegate Delores McQuinn.
Opponents say the measure is vague and goes beyond the standards of the federal breast milk break time requirement that went into effect when the Affordable Care Act was signed in 2010. The bill would extend the nursing break benefit to Virginia employees who are exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay requirements – workers not entitled to the break under federal law.
Nicole Riley with the National Federation of Independent Business, says it’s also problematic. H.B. 1080 would require employers with fewer than 50 workers to provide the break and the extra space. Other business interest groups like the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Retail Federation also oppose the bill.
Another potential hurdle for the H.B. 1080’s passage is its cost. Fiscal analysis from the Department of Planning and Budget suggests the state will need to spend about $50,000 more a year. The money would go towards hiring an additional Labor and Industry Department inspector to help enforce the law.
Del. Yancey says he respects the opposition, but believes the bill is positive and necessary.
Even though this is his fourth time bringing the bill to the Virginia legislature, this year is the first time the bill has cleared a subcommittee.
H.B. 1080 now heads to the full House Appropriations Committee for consideration.