Mayor Michael A. Nutter, joined by Councilman David Oh, members of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR) and women’s health advocates, signed into law legislation establishing that it is an unlawful business practice for an employer with one or more employees to fail to provide reasonable accommodation for an individual’s need to express, or to pump, breast milk in a safe, sanitary, non-bathroom space.
“As parents, our first priority is to care for our families. This legislation not only allows mothers to provide vital nourishment to their babies, but also protects their right to express breast milk in an appropriate environment without stress or fear,” said Mayor Nutter. “Together with our Parental Leave policy for City workers and our pregnancy accommodation ordinance, the new policy strengthens our Administration’s commitment to mothers and families across the city. I want to thank Councilman Oh, the PCHR and the community advocates for taking up this important issue.”
Bill No. 130922 will take effect immediately. As defined by the legislation, a reasonable accommodation includes providing unpaid break time or allowing an employee to use paid break time, mealtime, or both to express breast milk. This legislation applies to all employers in the City, so long as it does not cause an undue hardship on an employer.
“The bill addresses the issue of treating people fairly and on their merits. It’s a Constitutional right and it’s smart,” said Councilman David Oh. “Success for women in the workplace is critical for Philadelphia to have a competitive economy. Women who are mothers should be able to be successful, happy, and fulfilled in the workplace.”
Rue Landau, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, added, “This new law adds essential job protections for working mothers and their families. Now, women who return to work after childbirth can express milk at their jobs in safe, private, sanitary spaces. Couple these new breastfeeding provisions with the recently enacted law to provide reasonable job accommodations for pregnant workers, and women are protected at work from pregnancy through childbirth and breastfeeding. That’s a huge win for female employees, their families, and Philadelphia’s economy.”
JoAnne Fischer, Executive Director of the Maternity Care Coalition, said, “We are delighted with this legislation. Despite the fact that the health benefits of breastfeeding to both mom and baby are well documented, MCC hears countless accounts of working mothers given inadequate break times, lack of private space or even being forced to pump their milk in bathrooms. It is a breakthrough for the rights of working parents that the City of Philadelphia now considers it a requirement to provide support to breastfeeding moms who are a valuable and productive part of the city’s workforce.”
“GSK creates and supports a vibrant working environment with accommodations that help working mothers successfully transition back to work and integrate their lives,” said Letizia Amadini Lane, Vice President, Employee Value Proposition at GSK. “For example, the lactation rooms we have provided for more than 15 years enable our employees to do the right thing for their children while continuing to be leaders in the workforce.”