Mothers who are going back to work after having a baby may wonder how they’re going to be able to pump breastmilk for their baby. The simple answer is that most employers in the United States have to give women time and space to pump up until the baby is a year old.
The Break Time for Nursing Mothers law is part of the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law sets some very strict standards. Knowing what you’re entitled to before you return to work can help you.
What does the employer have to provide?
The employer has to provide reasonable breaks for you to pump. These don’t have to be paid breaks unless they provide all employees with paid breaks. The breaks you use for pumping should occur at the frequency and duration you need. This usually means that you’ll need to pump more often when the baby is younger, but the time between sessions will lengthen as the baby gets older.
Besides the time to pump, the employer also has to provide you with a space to pump. This can’t be in the bathroom. It must be private, and it has to include a chair. The employer can’t expect you to pump in a break room unless it can be closed off for you while you pump, and there should be a way to secure the door, so people don’t barge in on you.
Working moms who aren’t given reasonable time to pump should launch a complaint against their employer. Having someone on your side familiar with these laws can reduce your stress as you go through the process.