Many mothers must go back to work after giving birth but may have questions about what their rights are if they are still nursing their child.
If you are a mother, you should not feel as if you must give up working because you are nursing. Fortunately, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires break times for nursing mothers.
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), enacted in 2010, employers must provide reasonable break time for employees to pump breast milk for their nursing child.
Your employer is required to provide you with these break times for up to one year after your child’s birth. You receive this one-year period with each child you have.
Where you can pump
Additionally, your employer must provide you with a private location for pumping your breastmilk. This must be more than a bathroom, especially a public bathroom that other employees can access.
The location your employer provides must prevent other employees from seeing you or entering the private space. Many employers have an area used exclusively for nursing mothers.
While that is not required, your employer must still have a space that is set up appropriately for nursing mothers when they need to use it. The space can be temporary, so long as it meets the legal requirements of shielding you from the view of other employees and preventing other employees from accessing the location when you are using it.
When you can pump
You must also be given adequate time to pump. The FLSA states that your employer must give you a reasonable amount of break time to pump and as many breaks as you need.
As any nursing mother knows, these times can vary. Some days you may need more time and/or breaks than others. Your employer should understand this and not try to place limits on the time or amount of breaks you take during the workday.
Your employer is not required to pay you for the time you spend expressing milk. However, they do if you do it during your regular paid break time.
You should not be expected to do any work during these breaks. If your employer asks you to do work while expressing milk, you can do it, if possible, but your employer must pay you for it.
You should not be treated any differently because you are nursing. Your employer should not demote you, terminate you or complain that your nursing breaks are interfering with your work schedule or preventing you from doing your job. This could be retaliation, which is illegal.
Many mothers would love to stay at home with their child all day, but in today’s world that is not always possible. This is one example of a right you have under the FLSA that helps you balance the demands and responsibilities that come with being a working mother.