Being a new mother comes with a lot of demands and obligations. This is especially true when it comes to expressing milk for the baby, which must occur periodically throughout the day.
For new mothers that have returned to work, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) stipulates that employers must provide nursing breaks to women for a period of one year after giving birth. Here are a few things you should know about these laws.
Frequency and location of nursing breaks
Every woman is different when it comes to expressing milk for the purposes of nursing. Some will need to have breaks more often than others, so employers must work with the staff member to determine a break schedule that meets the woman’s needs. Additionally, the duration of each break is bound to vary day to day, so employers must remain flexible.
Choosing the right location is also important. While the nursing mother does not a need permanent space to expel milk, they must have access to a private area free from disturbances. The bathroom is off-limits for nursing breaks, however, even if it is private.
Compensation for nursing breaks
Employers are not necessarily required to provide compensation for nursing breaks, unless certain circumstances apply. For example, if a woman uses a compensated break to express milk, she should still receive compensation for the break as she normally would. Additionally, a woman who performs work tasks while on a nursing break must also receive the sufficient amount of compensation.
If you feel your employer has violated your rights, you can file a complaint with your human resources department. Your employer is not allowed to take punitive action as a result of the complaint, such as by firing or demoting you.