Lactation Breaks in the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know About the Nursing Mothers Amendment to the FLSA

Source: Sarah Andrews, Hofstra Labor and Emploment Law Journal, Vol. 30, No. 1, Fall 2012

Effective March 23, 2010, federal law now requires all employers to offer eligible employees an appropriate location and job-protected time off from work to express breast milk for their nursing infants. The mandate for lactation breaks was a product of the 2010 Healthcare Reform Law, which amended the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by adding the Nursing Mothers Amendment to Section 207.

This article examines the law with the goal of outlining the requirements of the Nursing Mothers Amendment and offering suggestions on constructive and cost-effective ways to comply. This article has four parts. Part I considers the evolving role of breastfeeding in a labor force that is increasingly populated by female employees, and examines the resultant legal trends that will affect employers. Part II examines the statutory language of the Nursing Mothers Amendment to the FLSA and the existing interpretive guidance from the Department of Labor (DOL). Part III focuses on analogous state laws, which are sufficiently numerous that many employers either already have lactation programs in order to comply with state law, or may be out of compliance. Part IV will address employer concerns and recommends that employers consider the business case for developing comprehensive lactation support programs.