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Frequently asked questions about nursing breaks

If you’re a new mother in Kansas City who’s on her way back to work, you may have questions about nursing breaks. While it’s true that your employer is legally obligated to provide such breaks, knowing the details of the law is crucial to make sure your rights aren’t being violated. The United States Department of Labor offers the following answers to frequently asked questions about nursing mothers and breaks.

Who’s Entitled to Nursing Breaks?

All workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are entitled to nursing breaks (which includes most employees). Additionally, even if an employee isn’t covered by the FLSA she may be covered under state law, which also offer guidelines regarding nursing breaks. Despite a worker’s status, employers are encouraged by the federal government to provide breaks to mothers for the purposes of nursing.

What Are the Employer’s Obligations?

For one year after the birth of a child an employer must provide a sufficient amount of time and a secure place for a woman to express breast milk. Additionally, the designated area for nursing breaks must not be a rest room. It should be away from the public and other employees, however. How often breaks need to occur will likely vary from woman to woman.

Are Nursing Breaks Paid?

The FLSA requires covered employers to provide paid breaks. However, nursing breaks don’t necessarily need to be compensated, unless the employee is using a covered break to express milk. Compensated breaks typically run no longer than twenty minutes (longer breaks are generally not compensated).

Does the Break Area Provided Need to Be Permanent?

Nursing break areas need not to be permanent. However, they do need to be private, functional in terms of their intended purpose, and available when a nursing mother needs it. Additionally, an employer only needs to provide a break area when the need arises (meaning that they don’t need to have a space ready to anticipate the needs of a nursing mother).

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