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Breaks for Nursing Mothers

Supporting breastfeeding for working mothers

Breastfeeding is the healthiest option for most babies and mothers.  However, it’s often a challenge for working mothers to continue breastfeeding after they return to work. 

Health reform removes barriers to breastfeeding by requiring employers to provide reasonable break time and private space for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.  Employers are required to provide a private place, other than a bathroom, for mothers to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when health reform was signed into law on March 23, 2010.

Does Minnesota currently have a law regarding breastfeeding at work?

Minnesota law requires employers to provide break time for a mother to express breast milk for her infant child.  Employers are also encouraged, but not required, to provide a private location for pumping.  By requiring private space for mothers and allowing mothers to pump “as needed,” health reform strengthens requirements to the benefit of mothers and children. 

What must an employer provide to workers who need to express breast milk in the workplace?

Employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time and a space to express milk as frequently as needed by the nursing mother, for up to one year following the birth of the employee’s child. The frequency of breaks needed to express breast milk and the length of each break will likely vary. The space provided by the employer cannot be a bathroom, and it must be private and free from intrusion by coworkers or the public.

Does the nursing mothers break time apply to small businesses?

All employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), regardless of the size of their business, are required to comply with this provision. However, employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if the employer can demonstrate that 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, or structure of the employer’s business.

Does the break time have to be paid break time?

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. 

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.

No.  The statute specifically states that the space provided for employees to express breast milk cannot be a bathroom.

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