Does the FLSA Require Employers to Provide Break Time for Nursing Mothers?

Yes, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), employers are required to provide break time for nursing mothers.  Here’s what employers need to know about this requirement:

When is a break for a nursing mother required?  For one year after the birth of a child, each time the employee has the need to express breast milk, she is entitled to a “reasonable break time” to express milk for her child.  The frequency and duration of these breaks will likely vary.

Where must the break occur?  The employer must provide the nursing employee with a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.

Does the employer have to pay the employee during the break?  No, an employer is not required to compensate an employee receiving a break to express milk provided that the employee is completely relieved from duty during that time.

Are all employers subject to the requirement to provide break time for nursing mothers?  An employer that employs less than 50 employees may be able to avoid the requirement to provide break time to nursing mothers, but only if the employer can prove that complying with the requirement would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

See 29 U.S.C. § 207(r).

Takeaways:  Most employers need to provide reasonable breaks to nursing mothers under the FLSA.  Employers should review their policies and practices to make sure that they are in compliance and have a private place, other than a bathroom, where nursing mothers can take breaks.

About Michael Miller

Michael is a Chambers-rated attorney in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits, and Labor group and is head of the firm’s Employment Law Counseling and Compliance practice group. He has 25 years experience counseling employers to prevent unwanted litigation and advises companies of ongoing changes in federal, state and local employment law. Michael advises employers in all areas of employment law including discipline and discharge, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, non-compete and confidentiality agreements, affirmative action plans, background checking, and drug/alcohol testing. For Michael's full bio, click here.

Posted on September 6, 2012, in Wage and Hour, Workplace Conditions and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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