Pumping At Work: Working Moms & Breastfeeding
By Cindy Puppos | December 16, 2019
While most moms would agree that pumping breast milk at work isn’t easy, when compared to the way it was… things have definitely changed for the better. Thanks to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, state specific laws, lactation room laws, and the demand for workplaces to promote a healthier work/life balance, there are laws on pumping at work as well as breastfeeding laws at work. This type of legislation gives major support to women who may be breastfeeding or pumping at work.
To be successful with pumping at work, you’ll need to be informed, and (of course) have a breast pump! 1 Natural Way provides mothers with name brand breast pumps, monthly breastfeeding supplies, maternity compression stockings and postpartum recovery garments, as well as expert and compassionate advice and top-notch customer service. Click here to start the qualification process and find out if you qualify for a breast pump at no cost to you.
1 Natural Way wants to support you through your breast pumping journey, and part of that, for many moms, will involve pumping at work. Here are some action items to consider before your due date, and what to expect as you approach the topic with your employer.
If you’re like most moms, you prepare for breastfeeding by learning how your pump works, purchasing nursing and pumping friendly clothing, researching the rules and guidelines for breast milk storage, and nowadays, downloading useful apps to help track pumping schedules (reminders and alarms), time pumping, etc.
But if you’re a mom who works outside the home, you also need to prepare for returning to the office by discussing, with your employer, your expectations and requirements as a nursing mother. This may look like:
- Identify where the designated breast pumping area will be. If one has not been created yet, present your expectations and lawful requirements.
- Develop a general plan for pumping that exclusively fits YOUR work schedule. Generally, in an 8 hour work day, nursing mothers will need to pump 3 times for 15 minutes. Add on an extra 10 or 15 minutes for retrieving your pump, setting up and cleaning your pump, as well as output documentation and labeling.
- Discuss refrigeration and breast milk storage options.
BREAK TIME FOR NURSING MOTHERS LAW
The “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law (a part of the Affordable Healthcare Act), simply requires two things from employers - (1) break time to pump and (2) a dedicated space to pump. Employers are required to provide these benefits for a mother nursing her child for one (1) year after the child’s birth.
When it comes to pumping during break time, the frequency of breaks, as well as the duration, will vary - there’s no controlling Mother Nature. This is why it is important to work with your management before baby arrives, so you both have the understanding that your break time must be flexible.
Employers are not required to compensate you for these breaks. However, if your employer would compensate you during any other break time, they are required to compensate you if you choose to use your dedicated break time to pump. They cannot practice discrimination against you if you choose to pump during break time.
LACTATION ROOM REQUIREMENTS
A dedicated place to pump is critical to a mother’s successful pumping session. Employers are required to create a place for nursing mothers, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from interference from coworkers and the public. If the space is not exclusively dedicated to a mother who is pumping, it must be available when needed in order to meet the lawful requirements. A temporary space can be created and/or converted as well, but it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion.
Please note the FLSA break time and lactation room requirements does NOT preempt state laws. Select state laws often provide greater protections to employees like compensated break time, break time beyond one year, or break time for exempt employees.
WHO BENEFITS FROM PUMPING AT WORK LAWS?
Generally, if your employer is required to pay you overtime when you work more than 40+ hours per week, then you are protected under the FLSA (as a nonexempt employee). Most often, this applies to hourly paid workers, not necessarily salaried workers (exempt employees).
Luckily, depending on what state you live in, as a salaried employee you may have state level protections to cover what is lacking at the federal level. Even if you are not covered as a salaried employee, many organizations may go above and beyond to accommodate and promote nursing.
Often times, it is stated that workplaces with 50 workers or less do not have to comply with the FLSA. This is not the case. A workplace with less than 50 employees may ONLY be excused from FLSA compliance if they can demonstrate that providing these pumping breaks and/or creating a pumping space would cause undue hardship to the business.
STATE PROTECTIONS AND BREASTFEEDING LAWS
There are 29 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico that have ‘breastfeeding in the workplace’ provisions. These states include 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.
You can also find out more about breastfeeding laws by state here.
EMPLOYER DISCRIMINATION + RETALIATION
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division is responsible for enforcing the “Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law. They can also be reached at (800) 487-9243. If you have any further questions or feel you have been discriminated against in the workplace and need to file a complaint, do not hesitate to reach out to them.
1 Natural Way offers a complete array of products and services to make moms more comfortable and confident throughout their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey. We provide mothers with name brand breast pumps, monthly breastfeeding supplies, maternity compression stockings and postpartum recovery garments, as well as expert and compassionate advice and top-notch customer service. Click here to start the qualification process and find out if you qualify for a breast pump at no cost to you.
About the Author
Cindy Puppos is 1 Natural Way's Customer Service Manager, so she has a good idea of all the different and wonderful questions that moms have for her team. Thankfully, as the mother of two boys (who are now grown!) and a veteran of the company and breastfeeding, Cindy is always knowledgeable about breastfeeding, pumping and all the latest and greatest pumps!