Breastfeeding and LB 627

August 20th, 2015 by Live Well Omaha Kids

Guest blog by Nebraska State Senator Heath Mello

As we look forward to the arrival of our second child next month, I cannot help but reflect on our family’s journey. It has been inspiring watching my wife,Mello2011 Catherine, become a wonderful mother to our daughter and build on her successful career during our busy day-to-day.

Not only is our family growing, I feel that my own understanding and appreciation for the unique environment for women in the workplace has been informed by our experience. While my wife’s employer had reasonable accommodations for her to continue breastfeeding when returning to work, I realized not all mothers enjoyed that same opportunity.

Last fall, I researched ways to modernize Nebraska law to address the evolving nature of workplace demographics. The reality is that most families in Nebraska need both parents to be employed in order to make ends meet. In 2013, 70.9% of pregnant and new mothers were in the workforce and 77% of children ages 0 to 17 had all available parents in the workforce.

Pregnant Workers Fairness LB 627-SenatorHeathMello

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I wanted Nebraska to join the growing number of states around the country that recognize the importance of maximizing a healthy start for children through supporting pregnant and new mothers in the workplace. In January of 2015, I introduced LB 627 to strengthen our laws in the spirit of the 1978 federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

My legislation enhanced the definition of discrimination as it relates to women who are pregnant and required reasonable accommodations be made in the work place for common needs relating to pregnancy and childbirth. These accommodations include items such as break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding needs. A full list of accommodations and the bill itself can be found here on the Legislature’s website.

The legislation passed with nearly unanimous support from the Legislature and was signed by the Governor on April 13, 2015. The changes made by LB 627 affirm Nebraska’s strong values of family, hard work, and caring for our children. This public policy change will have a positive impact on children’s health and it is a step toward modernizing the workplace in response to our state’s demographics.

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