Know Your Rights: Breastfeeding at Work

Many new mom’s don’t know what to expect when returning to the workplace after having a baby.  Especially for those who are still breastfeeding, there may be concerns that their workplace won’t provide an environment conducive to breastfeeding.   This article will cover your protected rights as a breastfeeding mother, and what you should expect in your place of employment.

Fair Labor Standards Act and Breastfeeding

In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide reasonable breaks for employees to express breastmilk for up to a year after childbirth.  For a new mom, this could mean taking a break every 2 hours for 20-30 minutes each time.  This is a protected right for workers in the United States, and should be the expectation for new mothers returning to work after maternity leave.

Under the FLSA, the employer is required to provide an adequate space for expressing breastmilk.  This does not include the bathroom.  It should be a private space that is not visible to other employees.

The FLSA does not require that employers provide paid break time, but in many States this is standard.  Also, the FLSA only applies to employers with 50 or more employees.  Each State has its own unique protections for mothers, so it’s important to know your rights within your State of residence.  This is a great resource for learning more about your state’s protected rights for breastfeeding women.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

If you feel your workplace isn’t providing the resources you need as a breastfeeding mother, often a simple conversation can result in a positive outcome.  For many smaller businesses, it may be their first time hearing it and in many cases they’ll be eager to help their employees feel comfortable.  Don’t be afraid to sit down with human resources or managers to share your concerns.  A good employer will do their best to accommodate your needs as best as they can.

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