Originally Posted by hypatia
I understand where you're coming from, but I have a have a slightly different take on the issue than you.
I think that as teaching is currently structured where you live, teachers can't take breaks to pump. But there's no reason why teaching couldn't be restructured to be a little bit more accommodating. It's not that far-fetched to imagine a school day with more breaks for teachers. If the school administrators had to do it, they would figure it out. They're just not motivated yet. [And in a more-far-fetched fantasy, I can imagine classrooms to which you could bring your infant. Or where you could pump during class.]
You'd have to have some sort of exception in the law for professions where, due to the nature of the profession it simply wouldn't be possible to pump. But IMHO it would have to be something inherent to the profession itself, not just due to non-essential choices someone has made in deciding how to structure the profession.
Yes! For instance, for teaching/teachers - how about hiring people who managed recess (and actually having recess) - and allowing bf mothers to pump during recess times (for elementary and middle school)? We too often assume that the way things are, is the way they should be - when sometimes the real reason is simply tradition.
I think for starters, the reasonable accommodations should be:
1. Guaranteed pumping breaks twice daily (assuming lunch would not be counted amongst these breaks, since most moms could pump during lunch as well, that would be three breaks/day). I think initially, the breaks would need to be unpaid (unless the worker could demonstrate that she was still working while on break). But over time, I don't see why that couldn't be phased out and pay continue throughout pumping time (I think when it's unpaid, it discourages mothers -- among other things, many would probably end up working an extra hour if possible, to make up the lost wages).
2. Expected additional break time during exams to accommodate average pumping needs for breastfeeding mothers during day-long exams (i.e., MCAT, LSAT, FE etc.). This, to appease the "unfair to have more breaktime" people, could be extended to everyone taking the exam, if necessary.
3. NIP OK anywhere, any time that the mother (and infant) would normally be allowed to be if they weren't bfing - with penalties for attempting to impede that.
4. Employers should be encouraged via tax breaks to provide pumping rooms; and companies over X number of employees should be required to have a designated facility available for this purpose (I don't know what # is reasonable - 100?). It wouldn't have to be used for that unless someone requested it, but it should be available and they shouldn't be harassed for asking to use it (I have a friend who was harassed at the university she worked at, for requesting that a room be made available for her and another mom to pump in - ironically, harassed by the nursing program which wanted to use the room for an office, instead).
I too am a dreamer who'd like to see children allowed at work with their mothers (where appropriate/acceptable) - at the courthouse here, it's been policy for infants under six months to be able to come to work with mom, as long as she's not in a public interaction type position. But I don't think the above 4 suggestions are that difficult, nor are they that unreasonable. Quite a few employers don't bat an eye at their smoking employees taking longer and more frequent breaks (usually paid!) than their breastfeeding employees would be taking to pump.