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Are nursing mothers required to have work breaks?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) features many employer requirements to ensure workers have access to their rights. According to the U.S. Department of labors, nursing breaks fall under the category of the FLSA.

Workers should explicitly understand these regulations, and employers must ensure they are implements correctly. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Basics of nursing breaks

Employers must provide nursing mothers break time for the purpose of nursing up to one year after the birth of their child. Additionally, nursing mothers must have a private place, out of view of other workers, customers, and clients, that is not a restroom facility. If there are state laws that offer greater protections to nursing mothers, they supersede federal statutes.

Length and location for nursing breaks

The length and frequency of breaks vary according to each woman’s need, so flexibility on behalf of the employer is a must. The law states that length and frequency of break time are reasonable, which means the individual woman’s needs are the basics.

Permanent space is not necessary. Additionally, employers can provide a multiuse space, provided they meet other requirements. However, availability is crucial when a nursing mother needs to take a break. An accessible space ensures the nursing mother can take breaks as needed during the day.


There are some exemptions to the nursing break regulations. For example, an employer with fewer than 50 workers may fall outside FLSA regulations if provisions create an undue hardship. However, there are often state laws that mandate similar accommodations, which exist regardless of the number of employees.


Compensation is not always necessary when it comes to nursing breaks. Exceptions occur when an employee is using a break that is normally compensated to expel breast milk. In that case, the employer must provide compensation as they would normally.

Understanding your employee rights ensures you can recognize violations. If you do not receive nursing breaks as required by law, follow up with human resources immediately.