Breastfeeding Employees

Learn more about your workplace rights.
Breastfeeding workers typically need to express milk 2–3 times during an 8-hour workday to maintain their milk production and avoid health complications.  Employees who are breastfeeding also require a private, clean space – that’s not a bathroom – to pump.  If you do not have a private office or control over when you take your breaks, you may need to request an accommodation from your employer to take regular pumping breaks in a clean, private space.
Talking To Your Boss About Your Pump?

Thinking about how to talk to your boss about pumping breaks, private space, or other breastfeeding accommodations?

  • Read Talking To Your Boss About Your Pump for step-by-step instructions, practical tips, expert guidance to help you talk to your employer about the breastfeeding accommodations you need. From the Center for WorkLife Law and A Better Balance. Coming Soon: state-by-state guide.
  • Check out Supporting Nursing Moms At Work: Employer Solutions, an industry-specific guide from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about how to find or create private space in your own working environment.
  • Recursos en Español: Lea “Como hablar con tu jefe acerca tu extractor de leche materna” para obtener instrucciones paso a paso y consejos prácticos y expertos para hablar con su empleador sobre las adaptaciones que necesita para amamantar. Del Center for WorkLife Law y A Better Balance.
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Are Breastfeeding Workers Protected by Law?

If you are a non-exempt employee, your employer is required by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law to provide you with reasonable break time to express milk and a space that is not a bathroom where you can express milk in private without anyone intruding on you until your baby is one year old.  If you are an exempt employee, you are not covered by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law, but you may still be entitled to accommodations under other laws.

The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires that employers give nursing employees the same freedom to address lactation-related needs as is given to employees with other medical conditions. For example, if employees are allowed to modify their schedule to attend doctor’s appointments or are given alternative assignments to accommodate temporary illnesses, the same accommodations should be provided to employees with lactation-related needs.

Many states have their own lactation accommodation laws.

Getting Help From Your Health Care Provider Or Lactation Consultant

Getting a note from your care provider may help you get the time and space you need to express milk for your baby.  Unfortunately health care providers and lactation consultants are typically not trained in writing effective work notes for their breastfeeding patients.  Download the guide below to share tips with your provider on how to write an effective work note to increase the likelihood you will receive the accommodation you need.

Have questions?

Contact the Center for WorkLife Law’s free legal hotline. 

This national hotline provides information to employees about their family caregiving responsibilities, including pregnancy, maternity, and parental needs and protections. The hotline also provides the names of lawyers in your state who are willing to be contacted about such matters (if appropriate).

Email hotline@worklifelaw.org or call (415) 703-8276.

You may also contact A Better Balance’s free legal hotline in New York (212-430-5982) or Tennessee (615-915-2417) to speak with an attorney about your situation.

Watch the webinar: Everything You Need to Know About Workplace Breastfeeding Law. The US Breastfeeding Coalition, the Center for WorkLife Law, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division (WHD) came together on July 12, 2017 for the “Everything You Need to Know About Workplace Breastfeeding Law” webinar to discuss the laws protecting breastfeeding employees and the tools that can help support them.