Is My Employer Required to Provide Breaks for Nursing?

If you are a new mother in California and you are breastfeeding, it is hard enough to leave your baby to go to work, but what happens at work when you need to nurse? Both state and federal laws require that employers not only allow nursing moms the breaks necessary to pump but also a private space to do so.

According to the California Breastfeeding Coalition, employers must provide adequate break time for a mother of an infant to express milk. Ideally, this break should coincide with the employee’s regular breaks, and if she needs additional time, the employer does not need to pay for the break. The employee does not need to produce any medical documentation in regard to the need to express milk. The employer must also accommodate, to the best of his or her abilities, the mother by providing a private room during this break. The room should be close to the employee’s work station and not be a bathroom. 

Unless the employer can prove that providing break time and a private room is financially or operationally impossible, there are consequences for denying these breaks. According to the State of California Department of Industrial Relations, the employer must pay the employee one extra hour of pay for each day he or she does not allow a nursing break. If an employer does not allow for a pumping break and does not financially compensate the employee, the state may charge the employer with a civil citation of $100 per violation.