What you need to know about breast pumping at work

| Jun 5, 2020 | Employment Law |

Breast pumping may be vital for your health and the health of your newborn son or daughter. While expressing milk is usually easier at home, you likely have little choice but to pump at work. 

It can be difficult to return to work after the birth of a new baby. While you may feel a bit out of the loop, you should not have to worry about expressing breast milk. After all, even though Pennsylvania law does not specifically address the matter, federal law likely gives you the right to pump during working hours. 

Privacy 

The Affordable Care Act updated the Fair Labor Standards Act to require that employers give nonexempt employees a private place to express breast milk. This place cannot be the bathroom, even if the bathroom is a private one. Before you head back to your workplace, though, you should understand your legal rights. 

Applicability 

While the FLSA’s breast pumping requirements are clear, they do not apply to all organizations. If complying with the law would cause a small business to experience an undue hardship, the company may be off the hook. Furthermore, the FLSA’s breast pumping guidelines only cover nonexempt employees. If you are exempt, a separate federal law, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, likely requires your employer to accommodate breast pumping. 

Accommodation 

To comply with the FLSA, your employer should give you a space for breast pumping. While using an existing space is acceptable, your employer must take steps to ensure your privacy. That is, your manager should not put you in a normally busy meeting room or visible cubicle. Setting up a temporary space is probably fine, provided it is private and out of view of your co-workers. 

Compensation 

The FLSA does not require your employer to compensate you for breast pumping time. Nevertheless, if you choose to express breast milk during an otherwise compensable break, your employer should pay you. Your employer likely also has an obligation to give you additional breaks or make other reasonable accommodations that allow you to express milk.