The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) includes rules about the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace. Employers have obligations to make certain accommodations to make sure workers have what they need to privately and comfortably expel milk for their new babies. Here are answers to frequently asked questions regarding employer responsibilities. 

Why are there laws regarding breastfeeding at work? 

Numerous research and studies show that breastfeeding benefits babies. Breast milk is associated with a lower risk of certain diseases and illnesses, including a lower risk of SIDS. It is also beneficial to the mother, in the sense that it can be uncomfortable when milk needs to be expelled and is not. Also, the process for expelling milk should not be interrupted, as this can affect a mother’s ability to breastfeed in the future. 

What kind of space must employers provide? 

The space must be private, free of other workers as well as staff. While it is not necessary for the lactation space to be behind locked doors, it should be shielded from the view of others. It must also not be a bathroom, which is not considered sufficient for lactating mothers. Employers do not need to provide a permanent space, however, as most women cease breastfeeding after a few months to a year. 

Are pumping breaks paid? 

Employers are not obligated to pay workers during lactation breaks. However, if a woman uses a paid break to pump breast milk, she must receive pay as she normally would during the break. Also, it is possible for a lactation break to be paid, until it runs over the paid break time. At that point, the remaining time would be unpaid. Employers can also choose to pay a woman for nursing breaks, regardless of policy.