Today, there are more mothers in the workforce than ever before. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, approximately 70 percent of all mothers with children under the age of 18 participated in the workforce in 2013, compared with only 47 percent in 1975. Typically, the older the children are, the more likely the mother is to have a job, because taking care of a young child is much more involved than taking care of a school-aged child. One of the issues that working mothers of young children face is breastfeeding. Prior to 2010, working mothers who nursed their children did not have many (if any) protections for expressing their breast milk during work hours. Now, employers must follow certain rules set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) concerning nursing mothers in the workplace.
FLSA Requirements for Nursing Mothers in the Workplace
According to the amended Section 7 of the FLSA, employers are required to give breastfeeding mothers “reasonable break time” to allow them to express breast milk for a nursing child. The Act states that employers must do this for at least one year after the child is born, and the mother is entitled to this break period each time she needs to express milk. The Act also states that employers are required to provide a private place other than a bathroom for the mother to express her breast milk.
Who Is Covered?
Only those employers who have 50 or more employees are required to comply with this law, unless the company can prove that it would cause undue hardship. Also, only women who are considered to be “non-exempt” are covered. Typically, this means that women who are salaried workers who make at least $455 per week and who are employed in certain supervisory positions are not covered by this nursing law.
Paid Break Time
Though employers are required to provide break time in a suitable place for nursing mothers to express their milk, they are not required to pay for these breaks. If coworkers are provided with paid breaks, and the mother chooses to express her breast milk during this time, she must be compensated the same as the other employees.
Contact an Illinois FLSA Litigation Lawyer
The FLSA has been amended many times in the past few years. Some of these amendments were made to better accommodate working mothers who need to breastfeed during work hours. Under federal law, you are required as an employer to obey the terms of the FLSA or face the consequences, which can be serious. If your company has been accused of violating the FLSA, you need immediate help from a Schaumburg, IL labor law attorney. At the Miller Law Firm, P.C., we can help you develop an efficient defense strategy and ensure you are meeting FLSA requirements in the future. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-995-1205.