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Can we ban breastfeeding at work?

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in Compensation and Benefits,Employment Law,Human Resources

Q. Can we legally prohibit female workers from breastfeeding at work?

A. No. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk.

Employers are also required to provide a place (other than a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.

The FLSA only mandates such breaks for nonexempt employees.

While the federal law does not cover breaks for exempt employees, employers may be obligated to provide such breaks under state laws. Pennsylvania law does not have a law addressing breaks for exempt nursing mothers, but it does require that breaks of less than 20 minutes be paid.

The FLSA does not require employers to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk.

However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break-time requirement if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship.

That’s determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature and structure of the employer’s business.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Liz Brooks JD IBCLC FILCA August 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm

This answer is correct is all respects — and yet misses entirely one of the key aspects of supporting a return to work by the breastfeeding mother: it is a very smart business move. Employees are happier and healthier, accommodating them for breaks while at work is NOT cumbersome or have fewer sick days ( = fewer sick days and less spent by employer on health insurance costs). Most of the USA work force is women of child-bearing age!

Check out the hugely helpful “Business Case for Breastfeeding”


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