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Am I entitled to a nursing break at work?

If you’re a new mother who’s recently returned to the work force, you may have questions about your rights at they pertain to nursing breaks. In fact, employers are beholden to certain federal and state regulations that establish the proper method of providing mothers with breaks to express milk for their new babies. The United States Department of Labor answers the following questions regarding nursing breaks and employer obligations.

Which employers are obligated to provide nursing breaks?

All workplaces covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must abide by nursing break regulations. While the FLSA includes most workplaces, there are exemptions. For instance, employers with less than 50 workers may not be obligated to provide breaks if they will pose an undue hardship to the business. Even if an employer is deemed exempt from the FLSA, they may be subject to state laws that govern nursing breaks.

What do nursing breaks entail?

An employer must provide time and space for nursing breaks to occur. The frequency of breaks can vary from person to person, which means each workplace must use its own discretion. Also, the space provided by must be clean, secure, and cannot be a restroom. Nursing breakrooms do not need to be a permanent fixture within a workplace, and employers without pregnant employees are not obligated to set up a space.

Is it mandatory that break time is paid?

While workplaces aren’t obligated to provide paid nursing breaks, they must compensate an employee appropriately if she uses a paid break for the purpose of expressing milk. Additionally, if a worker is still engaged in work duties while taking a break, that time must be compensated as well.

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