Pumping at work: Your rights as a breastfeeding employee

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2023 | Employment Law

Leaving a baby at home to return to work is a difficult transition for most new mothers. In addition, you’ll need to take regular breaks to pump if you want to achieve your breastfeeding goals. Fortunately, federal and Minnesota state laws recognize the importance of nursing newborns and protect lactating employees.

Breastfeeding accommodations

Nursing mothers may need to pump at least three times throughout an eight-hour workday. Expressing breastmilk can take at least 10 to 20 minutes for each session. If a nursing mom has to be in the workplace, they may need additional time to set up, clean and store the milk.

Of course, these numbers may vary depending on your body and your baby’s needs. Nevertheless, you may be worried about how much time it would take away from your work.

Minnesota law mandates that nursing mothers are entitled to reasonable break times for the first year after giving birth to express milk. Unless, of course, taking such breaks would severely impact your employer’s ability to do business.

Furthermore, because Minnesota is a breastfeeding-friendly state, you may not have to stress about receiving less pay for taking time to express milk. In 2021, Minnesota became the 3rd state to approve paid breastfeeding breaks.

In addition to break times, you may need a private area to express milk. By law, this space cannot be a bathroom or toilet stall and must have an electrical outlet. It must be shielded from view and free from intrusion.

If you experience any complications related to breastfeeding or your pregnancy, you may be able to ask for additional accommodations from your employer. Some new mothers request time off from work to seek medical treatment, a temporary transfer to a lighter duty, or the option to work from home.

Some of Minnesota’s laws on breastfeeding employees are new and may be difficult for businesses to implement. Take time to look into your legal rights to certain accommodations before approaching your employer about making a request. If your employer does not have policies in place for nursing mothers, you can present them with practical options.