Overview: The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires an employer to provide female employees with reasonable break time to express breast milk to nurse a child for one year after the child's birth and as often as the employee needs to do so.
The FLSA does not require employers to pay nursing mothers for the time they spend in breastfeeding breaks. However, if an employer permits short rest breaks of 20 minutes or less, such as smoking breaks or water-cooler breaks, employees must be paid for that time. If an employer already provides such paid rest breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be paid just the same as other employees, according to regulations from the US Department of Labor (DOL).
Employers also should check to see if the state in which they are operating requires them to provide paid breastfeeding breaks or imposes any other additional requirements involving breastfeeding breaks.
Trends: Many employers adopt breastfeeding policies that specify when, where and how employees may breastfeed and/or express breast milk.
Author: Michael Cardman, Legal Editor
Updated to include information on a California Court of Appeal ruling concerning on-duty meal breaks.
This checklist may be used to ensure compliance with various federal, state and local breastfeeding/lactation accommodation laws.
This checklist may be used to handle a lactation accommodation request.
XpertHR has added two checklists and a 50-State chart to help an employer comply with the various federal, state and local breastfeeding/lactation accommodation laws.
Enhanced to improve scope of coverage; updated to reflect forthcoming lactation accommodation amendments in Washington State.
Updated title, threshold and guidance to clarify the purpose of this statement in comparison to the Pregnancy and Lactation Accommodation Handbook Statement: Washington.
Updated to reflect forthcoming amendments to the breastfeeding breaks law.
HR guidance on complying with federal and state employer requirements involving break periods for breastfeeding and lactation, whether paid or unpaid.