Returning to Work as a New Mom - Your Rights

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There are a large number of new moms that end up going back to work while they are still breastfeeding their baby. While needing to pump while at work is a well-known issue, what many don’t know is that they have rights when returning to work as a new mom. Read on to see some of the places you can go to learn more about your rights before returning to work as a new mom.

Company Policy

One of the first places to look for information on your rights when returning to work as a new mom is to talk to your Human Relations representative. Your company may have specific policies that provide you with flexible scheduling, work from home options, pumping breaks, or other benefits that you can’t take advantage of if you don’t know they exist. It is also a good idea to talk to your boss about any options you plan to use so that you can find solutions that work for both of you. Finally, you want to check your company’s policies against both state and federal laws to ensure there are no conflicts between the law and company policy.

State Law

In the State of California, it is illegal for employers to “discriminate against women for breastfeeding or breastfeeding-related medical conditions.” Additionally, “an employer must provide reasonable unpaid break time to a woman to express breast milk unless doing so would seriously disrupt the employer's business.” Finally, “the employer must make a reasonable effort to provide the mother with a private space close to her work area, other than a bathroom, to express breast milk.” Click here for a map of states that provide protections under their state laws to new moms returning to work.

Federal Law

According to Federal Law, when returning to work as a new mom, you are entitled to all of the same benefits of other employees regardless of how you may have been affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. According to the Department of Labor, “Effective 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. § 207) ("FLSA") to require that employers provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk for one year after the birth of her child.” Unfortunately, there is no requirement for the time to be compensated but check other state and local laws as additional protection may be afforded.