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Nursing Leave for ASG supported by Governor’s executive order

Gov. Togiola Tulafono has established by executive order a five-member policy working group in support of the American Samoa Government’s Nursing Leave pay policy, which was first put in place in 2000 by the late Gov. Tauese P.F. Sunia.

“Breastfeeding has desirable results in that the children who are breastfed grow up to be healthy. They are close and warm to their parents,” Tauese said in a speech in August 2000 and promised to allow working mothers who breastfeed their babies to take two hours off each working day to breastfeed their children.

The Nursing Leave policy states that every nursing mother shall be “allowed a maximum of two hours per day paid leave of absence from work for the purpose of nursing her child”. Additionally, the “Nursing Leave is only available for the first six months immediately following the delivery of a baby.”

In his executive order dated May 29, revising the initial executive order, Togiola called for the creation of the Breastfeeding Policy Group, who will provide to the governor “sound policies and procedures that are supported primarily by science, culture and best practices in other states and territories as well as the federal government, in implementing this Order.”

According to the governor, these policies and procedures shall include, but are not limited to the following areas:

• education and outreach efforts to the ASG work force

• practical medical certification

• employer/employee responsibilities under the program

• non-discrimination and harassment of nursing employees.

“No policies and procedures are effective without express adoption by the governor,” the executive order points out.

The permanent members of this group are directors of the Health Department and Human Resources Department - both serving as co-chairs; director of Human and Social Services department, whose program manager for the WIC program is also a member, and the chief executive office of the LBJ Medical Center as the fifth member.

Additional members may be added to the Work Group through unanimous consent of the permanent members and the first meeting of the Work Group shall be held within 30-days from May 29, the order says.