Depending on your company’s region or state, you may be required to fulfill certain laws to accommodate all breastfeeding employees.
Here are some helpful resources that can help you navigate these regulations.
The US Federal Government established clear guidelines on breastfeeding accommodations in Section 7 of the 2010 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including:
- reasonable break time to express breast milk for 1 year after a baby’s birth;
- sufficient space in a private space that is not a bathroom (here are some examples)
- can include just a chair in a screened-off area
- employers are not required to pay for breast-pumping breaks, but many do
- time accommodations can include:
- flexible schedule
- opportunity to work extra time (arriving earlier or staying later)
- shorter meal break
What Employers Need to Know about Breastfeeding and Work – Office on Women’s Health (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [HHS])
Business Case for Breastfeeding – Office on Women’s Health
Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite: Easy Steps to Supporting Breastfeeding Employees – Office on Women’s Health
Fact Sheet on Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA – U.S. Department of Labor
Break Time for Nursing Mothers – U.S. Department of Labor
Frequently Asked Questions – Break Time for Nursing Mothers – U.S. Department of Labor
State by State
In the US, each state promotes breastfeeding at work to a different degree. Many go beyond the federal laws by requiring accommodations.
All fifty states protect a woman’s right to breastfeed her baby in any public or private location.
Thirty states exempt public indecency laws including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Illinois,Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Twenty-nine states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have specific laws for how employers should accommodate breastfeeding in the workplace including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
(Source: National Conference of State Legislatures)
A 2018 bill requires Illinois employers with more than 5 employees to provide employees who wish to breastfeed with reasonable paid break time (in addition to an unpaid 30-minute lunch period) to express milk for up to 1 year after the birth. Previously, the law only required unpaid break time, but it did not limit the timeframe to one year. Any additional break time to express milk must be paid.
If the employer believes break times create an undue hardship that disrupt operations, they must demonstrate this in order to avoid complying with the requirements.
(Source: HR Source)
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Accommodations – Washington State Office of the Attorney General
Expression of Breast Milk in the Workplace: Reasonable Accommodation – 2019 Washington House of Representatives Bill 1930
Workplace breastfeeding policies: Infant-friendly designation – Washington State Legislature RCW 43.70.640
Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace – Australian Breastfeeding Association
Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace Toolkit – Waterloo Public Health Waterloo, Canada
Breastfeeding in Ireland: A five-year strategic action plan – National Committee on Breastfeeding, Department of Health and Children
Becoming Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland: Report – Scotland Children and Families Directorate
Examples of Breastfeeding Programs and Policies
Healthy Communities Strategy for Breastfeeding Designation – North Carolina Public Health
Florida Breastfeeding Friendly Employer Award – Florida Breastfeeding Coalition Inc.
Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite Program – Missouri WIC
Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policies: An Employer’s Toolkit – National Business Group on Health Center for Prevention and Health Services