The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require rest or meal periods, except as amended under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for nursing mothers, but it does set standards for when work breaks, including meal periods, rest periods, and sleeping time, must be counted as paid work time. Many states, however, require paid and/or unpaid meal and/or rest breaks.
The ACA amends the FLSA to require that employers provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child's birth each time the employee needs to express milk (29 U.S.C. Sec. 207). Employers must provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public for this purpose. These provisions do not preempt a state law that provides greater protections to employees.
Unpaid breaks. If the employer already provides compensated breaks to employees, the covered employees must be paid for that portion of time expressing milk equal to the time paid other employees during breaks. The employer does not have to compensate for time that exceeds the paid break time. The Department of Labor (DOL) states that breaks for expressing milk would not properly be considered Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave or counted against the FMLA leave entitlement. The DOL encourages employers to permit nursing employees to make up unpaid break time.
Frequency and duration. According to the DOL, the frequency of breaks needed to express milk varies, depending on factors such as the age of the baby, the number of feedings in the baby’s normal daily schedule, whether the baby is eating ...