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Coworkers Paid for Smoke Breaks? Then You Can Pump Milk on the Clock

Last week a mom asked me a question on behalf of a friend who was having trouble with her employer about pumping at work.  She lives in a state which has no state law on pumping at work, but the new federal law applies to her company.

Employees at her workplace are given break time.  Employees use it for various purposes, including smoking.  But when she approached her boss about pumping, she was told that he pumping time would have to be off the clock.

As it happens, the Department of Labor issued a fact sheet on the pumping law just last week, and it happens to clarify the requirements of the law on this very point.  The fact sheet is also written in clear enough language for it to be really useful if you need to speak with your employer about pumping.

Here's what it says:

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. (emphasis added)

So it looks to me as if this mother would be entitled to the same compensation as the employees who are using the time to smoke, go to the bathroom, text, or whatever else they do. 

More questions and answers about the law are available on the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee site.


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