Break Time for Nursing Mothers

Definition

The term break time for nursing mothers refers to a law that requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express milk for a nursing infant.  To comply with the requirements of the break time for nursing mothers law, employers must provide a reasonable amount of time for the break as well as a location to express milk.

Explanation

Signed into law back in March 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also referred to as Obamacare, amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA); requiring employers to provide nursing mothers with a reasonable break time to express milk for a nursing child.  This new requirement included the following provisions:

  • Compliance:  all employers covered by the FLSA must comply with this requirement.  Generally, this includes all employers unless they have less than fifty employees and can demonstrate compliance would impose an undue hardship.
  • Eligibility:  any mother that has a need to express milk for a nursing infant, up to one year after the child's birth.
  • Break Time: the frequency as well as the duration of each break will vary.  Employers are not required to compensate mothers during these breaks, unless the employer currently provides compensated breaks to employees.  If an employer fails to compensate the nursing mother, they must be completely relieved from their job duties during this break.
  • Space Requirements:  the area provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom, and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion from both coworkers as well as the public.  The lactation space may be temporary or permanent.

Note:  The above FLSA requirements do not preempt state laws, which may also provide nursing mothers with this benefit.

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