Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Rhode Island

Author: Amy E. Mendenhall, Marissa L. Dragoo, Corinn Jackson, and Judith A. Paulson, Littler

When to Include

Rhode Island employers should consider including this statement in their handbook to show their compliance with the Rhode Island law requiring that employers provide unpaid break time and reasonable locations for employees to express breast milk.

Customizable Handbook Statement

Lactation Accommodation

The Company will provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee's child. If possible, nursing mothers should take time to express breast milk during their regular rest and/or meal breaks. If the break time cannot run concurrently with rest and/or meal breaks already provided to the employee, the break time will be unpaid for nonexempt employees. If these additional breaks are required, employees should work with their supervisor regarding scheduling.

The Company will make reasonable efforts to provide a private, secure and safe place, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to an employee's work area to express milk or breastfeed.

Employees should discuss with their supervisor, a Human Resources representative [or insert name of appropriate company representative or department] the location to express and store breast milk and to make any other arrangements under this policy. The Company will not discriminate against, discipline or otherwise take adverse action against an employee because she has elected to exercise her rights with regard to breastfeeding and/or expression of breast milk.

Guidance for Employers

  • This statement is intended to be used in conjunction with a national Lactation Accommodation policy statement.
  • Employers subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to provide a private place and rest breaks to mothers who wish to express breast milk for one year after the child's birth. However, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to comply with the FLSA's lactation accommodation and break requirements if doing so would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense. The FLSA also applies only to nonexempt employees, but the Rhode Island law does not have that limitation.
  • Under Rhode Island law, an employer must provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to breastfeed or express breast milk for her infant child. The break time must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee.
  • An employer is not required to provide break time for lactation if doing so would cause an undue hardship on the employer's operations.
  • Employers must also make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure and sanitary room or other location (other than a toilet stall) close to an employee's work area, where the employee can express milk or breastfeed her child.
  • "Reasonable effort" means any effort that would not impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer's business.
  • An "undue hardship" means any action that requires significant difficult or expense when considered in relation to factors such as the size of the business, its financial resources and the nature and structure of its operation.
  • Employers can consider implementing a system for tracking the use of lactation areas to account for an employee's time actually spent on break and for scheduling room usage to avoid multiple people needing to use the area at the same time.
  • For many employers, it can be difficult to find the appropriate space to satisfy lactation accommodation requirements. Consult legal counsel for assistance evaluating options for compliant accommodation practices.

Additional Resources

Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement

Breastfeeding Break Requirements by State