LegalFix
Select your state

Employment law

breastfeeding laws

Federal law requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth—each time the employee needs to express the milk (the frequency and duration of such breaks will likely vary). Employers are also required to provide a place (other than a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, and that may be used by an employee to express breast milk. These requirements are included in section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—a federal statute. See 29 U.S.C. 207(r).

The federal law provides that employees who work for employers covered by the FLSA and that are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime pay requirements (outlined in Section 7 of the FLSA) are entitled to breaks to express milk. And although employers who are exempt from the requirements of section 7 are not required under the FLSA to provide breaks to nursing mothers, they may be obligated to provide such breaks under state laws.

The FLSA requirement of break time for nursing mothers to express breast milk does not preempt state laws that provide greater protections to employees—for example, providing compensated break time; providing break time for exempt employees; or providing break time beyond one year after the child’s birth.

Employers are not required under the FLSA to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken for the purpose of expressing milk. But 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. And the FLSA provides that unless the employee is completely relieved from duty, the time must be compensated.

All employers covered by the FLSA—regardless of the size of their business—are required to comply with the requirement to allow break time to express breast milk. But employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FLSA break time requirement if the employer can demonstrate that compliance with the provision would impose an undue hardship. Whether compliance would be an undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer in comparison to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), federal law mandates that employers in Texas and across the United States must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth, whenever the employee needs to do so. The frequency and duration of these breaks can vary. Employers must also offer a private space, not a bathroom, that is protected from view and free from intrusion for this purpose. While the FLSA does not require employers to compensate for these breaks, if an employer provides compensated breaks, then the time used to express milk should be compensated in the same way. All employers covered by the FLSA must comply with this requirement, but those with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt if compliance causes undue hardship, which is assessed based on the business's size, financial resources, and structure. Texas state law may offer additional protections, but the FLSA sets the minimum standard for break time for nursing mothers.


Texas Statutes & Rules

Texas Health and Safety Code, Sec. 165.002. Right to Breast-Feed
This Texas statute supports the federal law by affirming the right to breastfeed and implicitly includes the right to express breast milk.

A mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be. While this statute does not explicitly mention the right to express breast milk, it underlines the state's support for breastfeeding rights, which by extension supports the need for time and space to express milk.

Texas Health and Safety Code, Sec. 165.003. Breast-Feeding Promotion Program
This statute establishes a program to promote breastfeeding, which may indirectly support the need for workplace accommodations for breastfeeding mothers.

The Department of State Health Services is required to develop a breastfeeding promotion program to educate the public about the benefits of breastfeeding. The program aims to increase public acceptance of breastfeeding, which can create a supportive environment for breastfeeding employees, including the need for breaks and private spaces to express breast milk.

Texas Labor Code, Sec. 21.002(8)
This section of the Texas Labor Code defines 'employer' and is relevant to understanding which entities are subject to state laws regarding workplace accommodations.

The term 'employer' includes a person who is an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, but does not include a labor union or an agency of a labor union. This definition is important for determining the applicability of any state-specific workplace accommodation requirements for breastfeeding employees.

Texas Government Code, Sec. 619.002. Work Place Breast-Feeding Policy
This statute requires state agencies to support the practice of work place breast-feeding by adopting a policy.

Each state agency shall support the practice of work place breast-feeding by adopting a policy that addresses work schedule flexibility, including scheduling breaks and work patterns to provide time for expression of breast milk. The agency shall also provide an accessible location allowing privacy, which may not be a bathroom stall, where an employee can express breast milk.

Federal Statutes & Rules

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - Section 7(r) - Break Time for Nursing Mothers
This statute is directly relevant as it mandates the provision of break time for employees to express breast milk and the creation of a suitable space for this purpose.

Under Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 207(r)), employers are required to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth, whenever the employee needs to express milk. The frequency and duration of breaks will vary depending on the needs of the employee. Employers must also provide a private space, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion for the employee to express breast milk. The space must be functional for this purpose. The FLSA's break time requirement for nursing mothers does not preempt state laws that may offer greater protections. Employers are not required to compensate nursing mothers for breaks taken to express milk unless the employer provides compensated breaks to all employees, in which case nursing mothers should be compensated in the same manner. All employers covered by the FLSA must comply with these requirements, although there is an exemption for businesses with fewer than 50 employees if compliance would impose an undue hardship, which is assessed based on the difficulty or expense of compliance in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.