State by State Breastfeeding Laws for Employers

Find your state’s legislation regarding the right to breastfeed in the workplace.

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

According to a policy brief, “As women return to work or school, breastfeeding rates decrease.” Breastfeeding advocates often cite lack of support in the workplace as the reason.

To help support nursing mothers, the federal government and many states have passed legislation regarding the right to breastfeed in the workplace. If you employ nursing mothers, it’s important to comply with applicable breastfeeding (or lactation) requirements.

Below is an overview of these laws.

Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Enacted on March 23, 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) amended Section 7 of the FLSA to include break time requirements for businesses that employ nursing mothers.

Under Section 7 of the FLSA, employers must provide “a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.”

Moreover, employers must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”

The FLSA’s breastfeeding criteria do not apply to:

  • Employers who are not subject to the FLSA
  • Employers with fewer than 50 employees, if providing breastfeeding breaks would cause undue hardship
  • Employees who are exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay provisions

The FLSA does not require you to pay nursing mothers for breastfeeding breaks. However, the FLSA has specific requirements regarding what type of “place” must be provided for  breastfeeding. The place must be functional, for the purpose of expressing milk. It cannot be a bathroom, even if the bathroom is private. It has to be a place “that is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from coworkers and the public.”

State breastfeeding laws

Depending on your location, federal law might be only the beginning. Many states have their own breastfeeding provisions for nursing mothers in the workplace — and some offer more protections than the FLSA.

For example, state law may require:

  • Paid breaks for nursing mothers
  • Break time for overtime-exempt nursing mothers
  • Break time for longer than 1 year after the child’s birth
  • Reasonable accommodations for nursing mothers

Some states expressly prohibit employers from discriminating against nursing mothers. Note, as well, that the United States Department of Labor makes clear: the FLSA’s breastfeeding requirements do not preempt state laws that provide greater protections to nursing mothers. In other words, if state laws are more advantageous to nursing mothers than the FLSA, then the employer must adhere to the state requirements.

The following states have breastfeeding laws for private-sector employers:

  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington

Next are some of the provisions for each of those states. Typically, the laws apply to all employers with employees in the state — but in some cases, only specific employers need to comply.

ARKANSASArkansas breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • The breastfeeding space must be private, secure, and sanitary.
  • No duration on how long employers must provide breastfeeding breaks after the child’s birth.

California breastfeeding lawsCALIFORNIA

  • Provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to mothers who need to express breast milk.
  • Employees should take breastfeeding breaks during their regular meal or break periods, if possible.
  • No duration on how long the employee can take breastfeeding breaks after giving birth.
  • Prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding.

ColoradoColorado breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk, for up to 2 years after the birth of the child.
  • Alternatively, the employee can be allowed to use their paid break or meal periods for the purpose of breastfeeding.

Connecticut breastfeeding lawsConnecticut

  • Nursing mothers have the right to express milk during their normal break or meal times.
  • Breastfeeding breaks can be unpaid.
  • No limit on breastfeeding breaks.

DelawareDelaware breastfeeding laws

  • Employers are required to make reasonable accommodations for employees who have pregnancy-related limitations.
  • The reasonable accommodations can include break time for expressing breast milk.

Georgia breastfeeding lawsGeorgia

  • Requires paid break time for employees who need to express breast milk.
  • No duration of breastfeeding breaks.
  • Employers do not have to provide paid breastfeeding breaks to employees who work offsite.

HawaiiHawaii breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable break time to employees who need to express breast milk, for up to 1 year after the child’s birth.
  • The break times do not need to be paid.
  • Employers cannot penalize employees for expressing breast milk at the workplace.

IllinoisIllinois breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk, for up to 1 year after the child’s birth.
  • The break time should occur at the same time as the employee’s regular break time, if possible.

Indiana breastfeeding laws Indiana

  • Employers with 25 or more employees must provide reasonable (unpaid) breaks to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • No duration of breastfeeding breaks.
  • When possible, the employer must provide a cold storage space or a refrigerator for the employee to store expressed breast milk.

KentuckyKentucky breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations for an employee’s limitations pertaining to pregnancy, childbirth (including breastfeeding), or other related medical conditions.
  • It is unlawful for applicable employers to discriminate in employment on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth (including breastfeeding), or other related medical conditions.

MaineMaine breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid or paid break time to employees who need to express breast milk, for up to 3 years after the child’s birth.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees who choose to breastfeed at work.

MASSACHUSETTSMassachusetts breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding.
  • Reasonable accommodations may include more frequent or longer breastfeeding breaks.
  • It is unlawful to deny reasonable accommodations to eligible employees.

MINNESOTAMinnesota breastfeeding laws

  • Provide a reasonable amount of unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • Breastfeeding breaks should run concurrently with the employee’s regular break times, if possible.
  • The private space to breastfeed must include an electrical outlet.
  • Employers cannot retaliate against employees who exercise their right to breastfeed in the workplace.

Mississippi breastfeeding laws

  • Employers cannot prevent nursing mothers from expressing breast milk in the workplace during their break or meal periods.
  • Mississippi does not expressly require employers to provide breastfeeding breaks.

NebraskaNebraska breastfeeding laws

  • Employers cannot refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to an employee due to pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition.
  • Reasonable accommodations include breastfeeding and proper facilities for expressing breast milk.

NevadaNevada breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable accommodations for the purpose of breastfeeding or lactation-related medical conditions.

New JerseyNew Jersey breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • The break times do not need to be paid.
  • No time limit on how long the employee can continue to express milk in the workplace.

New MexicoNew Mexico breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with 4 or more employees must provide break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • The break times do not need to be paid, but they must be flexible.

New YorkNew York breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid breaks to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • Employers cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions, including breastfeeding.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees who choose to breastfeed in the workplace.

OKLAHOMAOklahoma breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable breaks for the purpose of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.
  • The breaks do not have to be paid.

OregonOregon breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk, up to when the child reaches 18 months old.
  • Employers cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related needs, including breastfeeding.

Rhode IslandRhode Island breastfeeding laws

  • Employers cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations to employees who need to express breast milk.

South CarolinaSouth Carolina breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable unpaid break time, or allow the employee to use their current paid breaks, for expressing breast milk.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have pregnancy-related medical needs, including breastfeeding.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees who need to express breast milk in the workplace.

TENNESSEETennessee breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable daily unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • The breaks should run concurrently with other breaks provided to the employee, if possible.
  • Provide reasonable accommodations to employees who have pregnancy-related needs, including breastfeeding.

UtahUtah breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with 15 or more employees cannot refuse to make reasonable accommodations for employees who need to express breast milk.
  • Employers can ask the employee to provide a certificate from their healthcare provider, showing that reasonable accommodations are needed.

VermontVermont breastfeeding laws

  • Provide reasonable paid or unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk, up to 3 years after the child’s birth.
  • Employers cannot retaliate against employees for exercising their right to breastfeed in the workplace.

VIRGINIAVirginia breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with at least 5 employees must provide reasonable accommodations to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • Employers shall work with the employee – via a timely, good-faith interactive process – to develop acceptable reasonable accommodations.
  • Employers cannot discriminate against employees for requesting or utilizing reasonable accommodations.

WashingtonWashington breastfeeding laws

  • Employers with 15 or more employees must provide reasonable unpaid break time to employees who need to express breast milk.
  • Employers must provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related needs, including breastfeeding.
  • Employers that do not have a private space for expressing breast milk must work with the employee to find a convenient location.

Additional considerations

  • The District of Columbia prohibits employers from refusing to make reasonable accommodations for employees who need to express breast milk. Employers cannot discriminate against women on the basis of pregnancy-related medical conditions, including breastfeeding.
  • Under state laws, the breastfeeding place typically cannot be a bathroom or toilet stall. The “place” must meet the state’s definition.
  • The state may have posting/notification requirements for employers. The notices must inform employees of their breastfeeding rights in the workplace.
  • Usually, employers do not have to comply with the state’s breastfeeding requirements if doing so would cause them undue hardship.
  • Some localities have breastfeeding laws for employers – including Baltimore, San Francisco, and New York City. Check with your local government for applicable breastfeeding laws.

Lastly, if you have 15 or more employees, you need to comply with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA). The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit employment discrimination based on pregnancy-related medical conditions — including breastfeeding.

Bookmark(0)

No account yet? Register

Might also interest you