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Is my workplace required to provide nursing breaks?

New mothers in California often have many concerns when returning to work. One pressing issue involves nursing breaks and whether employers are mandated to accommodate women in this regard. Women’sHealth.gov explains employer obligations as they pertain to nursing breaks in the workplace.

How many nursing breaks does a woman need?

While the exact number can vary from woman to woman, most new mothers will need about two to three breaks during an eight-hour workday. In general, breaks can range from 15 to 20 minutes, though once again this can vary depending on the woman. This is why managers are encouraged to speak with new moms to determine their specific needs.

Are nursing breaks paid?

According to federal law, nursing breaks do not need to be paid. However, expelling milk during a break that would regularly be paid means that the woman must be compensated during this time.

What happens if a woman needs more time for nursing?

It’s usually up to the employer to develop a strategy for women who need more time for nursing. Some choose to calculate additional time as unpaid leave, while others allow women to come in early or stay late in order to make up the time missed. Some workplaces have even provided breast pumps proven to be more efficient at expelling milk, such as those available in a hospital setting.

Must I provide direct access to babies during the workday?

Employers are mandated to provide a clean, private area for expelling milk that is not a bathroom. If such an area does not exist at a business, an employer can choose to allow a new mom to breastfeed her baby on company premises. If this is not feasible, an employer may allow the woman to go home to breastfeed.

 

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