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Do nursing mothers get special protections under the FLSA?

As an employer, you've probably gotten quite the education on the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which sets out all sorts of wage and hour requirements. However, some of the finer points might have been lost on you. After all, you've got a business to run and 20 balls up in the air at any given time. So you may not be aware of some of the laws governing nursing mothers in the workplace.

The FLSA has been around for a while, but it was updated in this particular area by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), so let's take a look at some of the salient points. 

  • You are required to give a nursing mother a break that allows enough time to express milk. You don't have to provide compensation for this break time, but you must give the mother as much break time as she requires to express milk. This holds true for one year after the child is born.
  • You must provide a designated space for the nursing mother to express milk. It cannot be the bathroom and it needs to have a level or privacy that prevents coworkers from seeing or barging in on the mother.

Some states have stricter laws regarding nursing mothers. Some don't set a limit at one year, while others cover more employees than required by the FLSA. If you're an employer with questions about staying compliant with laws like this, it may be in your best interest to get the help of an attorney.

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