The following federal laws protect a mother and her child and their right to nurse anytime, anywhere on federal property. Federal property includes such things as museums, parks, courthouses, agencies, and other public places maintained by federal funds. State laws can be viewed in more detail here.
Library of Congress H.R.2490
Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000
Public Law No: 106-58 (Sec. 647):
Authorizes a woman to breastfeed her child on Federal property if the woman and child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.
Recently, an additional federal law was put into effect that impacts nursing mothers and their right to pump milk for their babies while at work. The issue we have with this law is that it only protects nursing mothers with babies up to the age of 12 months. This is simply not enough. The WHO and AAFP have both highlighted the fact that we find detrimental health outcomes when human babies are not provided human milk for their first 24 months of life, minimum. To reflect this, and be proactive in our nation's health care, we should protect nursing mothers' relationships with their children for at least the first 2 years of a baby's life.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
SEC. 4207. REASONABLE BREAK TIME FOR NURSING MOTHERS.
Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. 207) is amended by adding at the end the following:
An employer shall 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; and a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA”), signed into law on March 23, 2010 (P.L. 111-148), amended Section 7 of the FLSA, to provide a break time requirement for nursing mothers.
Employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to 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 requirement of break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk does not preempt State laws that provide greater protections to employees (for example, providing compensated break time, providing break time for exempt employees, or providing break time beyond 1 year after the child’s birth).
Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother. The frequency of breaks needed to express milk as well as the duration of each break will likely vary.
A bathroom, even if private, is not a permissible location under the Act. The location provided must be functional as a space for expressing breast milk. If the space is not dedicated to the nursing mother’s use, it must be available when needed in order to meet the statutory requirement. A space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk or made available when needed by the nursing mother is sufficient provided that the space is shielded from view, and free from any intrusion from co-workers and the public.
Only employees who are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements are entitled to breaks to express milk. While employers are not required under the FLSA to provide breaks to nursing mothers who are exempt from the overtime pay requirements of Section 7, they may be obligated to provide such breaks under State laws.
Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer’s business. All employees who work for the covered employer, regardless of work site, are counted when determining whether this exemption may apply.
Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. However, where employers already provide compensated breaks, an employee who uses that break time to express milk must be compensated in the same way that other employees are compensated for break time. In addition, the FLSA’s general requirement that the employee must be completely relieved from duty or else the time must be compensated as work time applies.