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Do you have a right to take lactation breaks at work?

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2022 | Discrimination |

If you are a new mother, you want to spend as much time with your baby as possible. Eventually, though, you simply have to return to work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 25% of infants breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life.

If you have decided not to feed your baby formula, you are likely to need to express breast milk after resuming your job duties. This probably requires taking specific lactation breaks at work, as your need to pump may not coincide with your regular breaks. Fortunately, you have the right to do so.

Reasonable break time

Both federal and state law require employers to give reasonable break time to mothers for the purpose of expressing breast milk. What is reasonable, of course, depends on a few circumstances. Among others, these include the following:

  • Your need to pump
  • The time to travel to the pumping location
  • The time you need to prepare
  • The time it takes to store the milk

Your employer may not have to give you breaks if doing so would cause serious disruption. This is a comparatively high threshold to meet, though, so you can expect to have access to break time when you need it. Still, your employer probably does not have to pay you during your lactation breaks.

An appropriate location

You also have a right to have a private place to pump, so your employer should make a reasonable effort to create one. Remember, your employer may not require you to pump in a bathroom stall or anywhere that is in view of your colleagues, customers or others.

Ultimately, while returning to work after giving birth can be stressful, you should not have to worry about taking time away from your job duties to pump.