Breastfeeding Laws in Arkansas
Arkansas has two laws supporting breastfeeding families. The newest law, effective July 1, 2009, requires employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time to an employee who needs to express/pump breastmilk. The first Arkansas breastfeeding law was passed in April of 2007. This law allows a mother the right to breastfeed her child in any public place.
What do Arkansas breastfeeding laws mean for businesses and public places?
Act 621: 11-5-116. Break time for expressing breast milk.
(a)(1) An employer shall provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her child in order to maintain milk supply and comfort.
(2) To the extent possible, the break time required under subdivision (a)(1) of this section shall run concurrently with any paid or unpaid break time already provided to the employee.
(b)(1) An employer shall make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure, and sanitary room or other location in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her milk.
(2) The room or location provided under subdivision (b)(1) of this section may include the employee's normal work space if the employee's normal work space meets the requirements of this section.
(c) This section does not require an employer to provide break time if to do so would create an undue hardship on the operations of the employer.
(d) The employee shall make reasonable efforts to minimize disruption to the employer's operations.
20-27-2001. Breastfeeding in public.
A woman may breastfeed a child in a public place or any place where other individuals are present.
The 2007 law also amended the AR indecency law (Code 5-14-112) to provide protection from prosecution for indecent exposure.
Why support breastfeeding?
If 90% of U.S. mothers exclusively breastfed for six months as recommended by medical providers, the nation could save $13 billion and prevent the loss of 911 lives, annually. (http://www.usbreastfeeding.org/LegislationPolicy/BreastfeedingAdvocacyHQ/BreastfeedingSavesDollarsandMakesSense/tabid/339/Default.aspx
Breastfeeding protects mothers and their breastfed children from many illnesses and diseases including obesity, diabetes, and some cancers.
Breastfeeding saves businesses time and money because breastfed children get sick less often and their parents miss less work.
Why is it important to support breastfeeding in public and workplace breast pumping?
- A mother needs to breastfeed her baby whenever he is hungry, to satisfy the baby and maintain her milk supply. Babies who are fed when they are hungry are less likely to cry and disrupt the place of business.
- Expecting a mother and baby to breastfeed in the restroom is insensitive and unsupportive! No one would want to eat their meal in a dirty restroom! Neither should a breastfeeding baby.
- Working mothers need to pump their milk to maintain their milk supply to provide the best food for their baby’s health. A clean room is needed for pumping or breastmilk expression to avoid exposing the baby’s food to foul odors and unclean surfaces.
How can businesses best support breastfeeding families?
- Display the "Breastfeeding Welcom Here" logo that shows your business welcomes breastfeeding mothers and babies!
If you have a private area for breastfeeding mothers, let mothers know they are welcome to use it, however, they are welcome to nurse anywhere in your establishment.
- Educate employees about the importance of offering kind support to breastfeeding mothers and babies. Have the Facts Sheets below on hand to provide education to other customers that may complain about breastfeeding in public.
Breastfeeding Welcome Here
Breastfeeding Welcome Here is a program for businesses and organizations to have as a way to support women and their families’ decision to breastfeed their babies.
- Displaying the Breastfeeding Welcome Here sign makes it easy for mothers and their families to identify breastfeeding friendly places. The Breastfeeding Welcome Here sign also helps strengthen public awareness that breastfeeding is natural, and that the business supports and promotes breastfeeding.
Why is Breastfeeding Welcome Here good for Business?
The campaign encourages businesses to adopt breastfeeding friendly practices and policies.
Businesses can display the international breastfeeding symbol to communicate that breastfeeding is welcomed within the establishment and mothers will not be harassed, treated poorly, and asked to leave, cover up or move as a result of breastfeeding.
To request a window cling, please call the Arkansas WIC Breastfeeding Helpline at 1-800-445-6175. The Breastfeeding Helpline is answered Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
There are also federal laws that protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers.
Federal Law: Break Time for Nursing Mothers
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide break time and space for a covered nonexempt nursing mother to express breastmilk for her nursing child for one year after her child’s birth.
Note: Employers are not required to pay nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide paid breaks, the employer must pay an employee who uses those breaks to express milk.
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