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 is free from intrusion to pump.  If you do not have a private office or a flexible schedule, you may need to request an accommodation from your employer to make sure that you can take regular pumping breaks and that you have a private space to use.
Are Breastfeeding Workers Protected by Law?

If you are a non-exempt employee, your employer is required by the Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provisions of the Affordable Care Act 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 may still be entitled to breaks and space to express milk as a reasonable accommodation under federal law.   Moreover, many states have their own break time and reasonable accommodation laws.  To learn more about the workplace protections available to breastfeeding workers in your state, visit the United States Breastfeeding Committee’s guides to state breastfeeding laws.

In California, visit Legal Aid At Work’s breastfeeding resources.

Talking With Your Boss About Your Pump?

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

  • Supporting Nursing Moms At Work: Employer Solutions.  (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.)  If you or your employer have concerns about how to find private space in your specific working environment, this guide can help.  This guide provides detailed, illustrated, industry-specific ideas for ways that employers in a wide variety of industries can accommodate nursing mothers.
  • Coming soon! Talking To Your Boss About Your Pump.  State-by-state guidance and practical tips created by WorkLife Law and A Better Balance to help you talk to your employer about the accommodations you need.
Getting Help From Your Healthcare Provider

If you are having difficulty getting the time and space you need to express milk for your baby, it may help to get a note from your healthcare provider.  Unfortunately healthcare providers are typically not trained in writing effective work notes for their breastfeeding patients.  Share note-writing guidelines and other resources that your healthcare provider can use to increase the likelihood that you will be accommodated at work.

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 or call (415) 703-8276.

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