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Accommodating Breastfeeding Employees

Ensuring Your Company is in Compliance
A large majority of American babies are breastfed. Employers must be prepared to make lactation-related accommodations for employees who breastfeed their babies when they return to work.

Lactating parents who are away from their babies need to express milk (typically using a breast pump) on roughly the same schedule as the child’s feeding schedule to maintain their milk production and avoid health complications, which can be serious. This means that breastfeeding employees must be given lactation breaks every few hours throughout the workday and be allowed to use a clean, private space. By adopting breastfeeding-friendly policies, employers can ensure that they are in compliance with federal andstate laws, as well as improve employee retention and productivity, reduce the use of sick days, and lower health care and insurance costs.

Lactation Employment Laws

Employers are be required by various state and federal laws to provide break time, private space, and other reasonable accommodations to breastfeeding employees.  Most employees nationwide are covered by the PUMP Act, which requires employers to provide nursing employees with reasonable break time and a private, non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk during the workday.  Employers may also be required to accommodate breastfeeding employees under other federal laws, including the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Additionally, most states have their own break time and/or reasonable accommodation laws covering nursing workers.

The Business Case for Breastfeeding

Supporting breastfeeding employees is not just a matter of legal compliance—it is a smart management strategy.  This publication from the United States Department of Health and Human Services explains why.


This guide from the Dept. of Health and Human Services provides detailed, illustrated, industry-specific solutions to assist employers in finding appropriate lactation space and time for their employees.

Employers seeking advice on accommodating breastfeeding employees or addressing other family caregiving issues may wish to contact Workforce 21C.

WorkForce21c_logo_60Workforce 21C provides advice and consulting services to employers and their advisers on issues related to pregnancy accommodation, gender bias in the workplace, and family responsibilities discrimination.

You have new rights as a pregnant, postpartum, or lactating worker! Learn more about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act today.