Workplace Support for Breastfeeding

Wondering about your workplace breastfeeding rights?

Federal law requires all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide a reasonable break time for a breastfeeding employee to express breast milk during the first year of her child’s life.

Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, where the employee can express the milk free from view and from intrusion by coworkers or the public.

An employer does not have to compensate a nursing mother for break time used to express breast milk, unless she is using a break time that all employees are compensated for already.

Tips for Getting Your Supervisor on Board

You can find practical strategies for approaching a supervisor in the US Department of Health and Human Services publication, The Business Case for Breastfeeding.

For example:

  • Explain to your supervisor that breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for your baby and that women who breastfeed are less likely to miss work to take care of a sick baby, are more likely to keep the company’s healthcare costs down, and are generally happier and more productive.
  • Help to scout out a suitable place at your workplace for expressing milk, such as an employee office, conference room, or little-used storage room. (Avoid restrooms, as they can be unsanitary and often have no outlets for an electric breast pump.)
  • Assure your supervisor that you will keep the area clean, store your milk properly, and not take longer than necessary for your pumping breaks.
  • Make it clear that you are committed to being a team member and will continue to be sensitive to your coworkers’ needs.

For more information on the law and how to file a complaint if your employer is not following the requirement, click here.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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