What is considered “Reasonable Break Time” for Breastfeeding Employees?

According to the 2010 federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers law, employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) 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.

So, how are organizations determining what “reasonable” is? The time needed for a parent to express breast milk will vary by company depending on size of the building(s) and the employee’s job responsibility (office, warehouse etc.) Some workers may have a convenient lactation space nearby, but others in very large buildings or campuses may have a long walk to get to a designated pumping space. For warehouse or factory personnel it could take even longer if they need to remove any safety gear such as hairnets, goggles or other Personal Protective Equipment, and whether they have a lactation space in their immediate work area.

We want to make it easy for HR professionals to create a breastfeeding-friendly culture for their employees, so we’ve created a practical “calculator” resource that will help you walk through the steps a typical employee may take when heading to your lactation space for a pumping break. This easy-to-use guide is ready for you to literally walk in the footsteps of your breastfeeding employees and add up the time it takes to complete each task! Beginning with walking from their workstation and collecting their pumping equipment through cleaning up afterwards, we’ve listed all the steps to consider and account for when designing a lactation policy. When all the time is added up, it will help employers determine what “reasonable” is for your new parents!

New parents want to continue their career and also manage the responsibilities that come with parenthood, and the last thing employers want is for them to feel stressed or rushed as they express their milk each day. By understanding what entails an average pumping session, organizations can further support their new parents by giving them truly “reasonable” time to pump precious milk for their new baby.

We hope that you find this guide useful. For other helpful resources visit our HR Toolkit where we offer resources such as employee survey templates, lactation space guidelines, manager training resources and more. We are happy that more and more organizations are using these tools to help develop policies and benefits that cultivate family-friendly spaces for working parents!