Workplace Support for Breastfeeding

Under the “Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law, which took effect with the signing of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, employers must provide 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.

The law applies to all employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. An employer does not have to compensate a nursing mother for break time used to express breast milk. But if the employer already provides compensated break time for all employees, and the mother uses that time to express breast milk, then the law requires that she be compensated the same way that other employees are.

Tips for Getting Your Supervisor on Board

You can find practical strategies for approaching a supervisor (and a sample letter to 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.

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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