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What rights do breastfeeding moms have to express milk at work?

Going back to work after you have a baby is a challenge for most women. That challenging time often comes with a variety of questions and concerns. For mothers who breastfeed, being able to take breaks to pump milk is one of those concerns. Since the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act went into law, employers have to follow certain guidelines set by the amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act Section 7.

What protections does the amendment to the FLSA provide?

The FLSA requires employers to provide nursing mothers with the time and a place to express breast milk for their baby. The time must be a reasonable amount of time that is as frequently as the mother needs. The employer has to provide a place that isn't a bathroom for the mother to express breast milk. The place has to be private, shielded from view and free from intrusions. Even a temporary space is permissible as long as it meets the requirements.

What employers are required to comply?

Employers who have fewer than 50 employees might not have to comply with the requirements if doing so would cause an undue hardship. Additionally, employees who are exempt from Section 7 of the FLSA, which also covers overtime pay, aren't extended these protections. These protections are only valid until the infant turns 1-year-old.

Women who don't think that their employer is complying with the provisions made for nursing mothers should try to determine if the employer is required to comply. If the employer is required to comply but doesn't, the nursing mother has the right to file complaints against the employer.

Source: United States Department of Labor, "Fact Sheet #73: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA," accessed Aug. 17, 2015

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