August is National Breastfeeding Month

by Alyssa Hill, SHRM-CP, Manager, Human Resources Solutions
Published August  25, 2022

August was declared National Breastfeeding month 11 years ago, the initiative being enacted to provide advocacy, protection, and promotion of breastfeeding. Billboards, signs, and social media posts have promoted breastfeeding throughout the month. Employers should take an opportunity to review their policies and practices on nursing / pumping in the workplace during working hours.

Michigan employers fall under the Fair Labor Standards Act – Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision which was created in 2010 after the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acts were signed into law. Employers are required to provide a nursing mother reasonable break time to express breast milk as well as providing a private place to do so by the amendment to the Act. These break times must be provided as frequently as the nursing mother needs (which may often vary) for at least 1 year after the birth of the child. A room that is “shielded from view or intrusion” is considered “private” and could be a space temporarily converted into a lactation room where the nursing mother would have access to all she needs but a bathroom would not be acceptable.

Employers are not required to pay non-exempt nursing mothers for lactation breaks but must ensure the employee is completely relieved from work if they are not compensated. Additionally, when employers already provide paid breaks, an employee who uses provided break time to express milk must be compensated as they normally would. Exempt employees under the FLSA must be paid on a salary basis, which means that the nursing employee’s salary may not be reduced when taking lactation breaks. 

While the Act is intended to apply to all employers, those having less than 50 employees are not subject to these requirements if they would impose an undue hardship on the business. 

If your organization would like advice on this or other similar rules and regulations, The Employers’ Association can help! Please contact our HR Helpline at 616-698-1167 or at tea@teagr.org