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Supporting Nursing Mothers in the Workplace

A photograph of a nursing room, with a sign reading "Breastfeeding"

August is National Breastfeeding Month, and we at the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the hardworking mothers trying to excel at work and home—balancing it all is truly a labor of love. During this challenging time of coronavirus pandemic, National Breastfeeding Month serves as a particularly appropriate time to highlight our efforts to provide work-life balance and on-the-job flexibilities for working mothers.

Women with children are a fast-growing segment of the workforce. Balancing work and family has become an important priority for all workers and employers. Today, data shows us that more than 80% of new mothers in the United States begin breastfeeding and more than half of new mothers are in the workforce. That’s why during August, National Breastfeeding Month, it is a great time to learn about the break time for nursing mothers requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

This law is critical for the future health and well-being of our nation’s working families. That’s why WHD takes seriously its responsibility to administer and enforce the break time for nursing mothers requirements of the FLSA. Through our education, outreach and enforcement efforts, we have helped countless workers exercise their rights to express breast milk during their workday and we have helped employers understand their responsibilities under the law. For example, just this month—following a WHD investigation in Arizona—Bank of America signed an agreement solidifying a new companywide policy that supports nursing mothers and complies with the law.

The breadth of the laws we enforce at the Wage and Hour Division work in concert to ensure that employers compete on a level playing field, and workers continue to receive protections and security in finding a work-life balance. From the break time for nursing mothers’ protections to the flexibilities available under the Family and Medical Leave Act to the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave protections afforded by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, we work to ensure that no one is forced to choose between the job they need and the family they love.

These flexibilities are even more critical right now. As our country reopens, and workers find their footing in this new reality, WHD continues to lead the way. We are working hard to ensure these flexibilities that not only protect workers but also help employers retain their talent and help them keep productivity high by continuing to employ a happy, satisfied workforce.

During National Breastfeeding Month, we encourage you to take some time and celebrate the working mothers in your life and also learn more about the critical protections under the break time for nursing mothers requirements of the FLSA. Here are some resources to help you get more familiar:


Cheryl Stanton is the Administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division.

Follow the Wage and Hour Division on Twitter at @WHD_DOL .

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