Employers are legally required to make certain accommodations to their staff. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nursing mothers must be provided breaks while at work based on the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Knowing your rights as an employee allows you to identify any violations that occur at your place of work. This guide explains employer obligations when it comes to nursing breaks for new mothers.
How many breaks are allowed?
Because every woman will have different needs, there is no specific limit on the time allowed for breaks or how many must be provided each day. Employers are obligated to reasonably accommodate their staff for up to one year after the birth of a child. Because reasonable accommodations can vary quite a bit, employers are encouraged to work with nursing mothers to develop a break schedule that best meets their needs.
Where must breaks occur?
Employers are obligated to provide a secure, private place for nursing breaks. This place must be away from other staff and customers. It does not have to be a permanent fixture, provided it meets the necessary requirements. The place designated for nursing breaks cannot be a bathroom, even if it is a single bathroom with a locking door.
Are breaks compensated?
This depends on the nature of the breaks. If an employee works through their nursing break, then they must be compensated. If a worker uses a break that would normally be compensated to express milk, the break must be compensated. However, employers are not obligated to provide compensation for nursing breaks alone, unless other conditions apply.
Workplaces should make every attempt to accommodate staff reasonably. When they neglect their duties, they can be held legally accountable for their failures.