Dear Pharmacy Doctors,
One of my staff pharmacists just returned from maternity leave and has requested extra break time to pump breast milk. California law indicates that all employers must provide break time to pump breast milk but she is asking for 45 minutes per break. Currently, she is allowed 15 minutes break for every 4 hours that she works. Should I restrict her to the 15-minute time limit?
Dr. What’s Best for the Breast
Dear Dr. Breast:
You are correct. The California law stipulates that you must provide adequate rest time for nursing employees. However, the rest time should coincide with the allotted break time of 15 minutes. If she were to “runneth over” her time, then the extra time will be unpaid. In this case, you do not pay her for the 30 minutes that she ran over break time for her breast milk pumping (see California Labor Code 1030).
To ensure that all laws are followed, please note that the California Labor Code 1031 says that employers need to make a reasonable effort to provide a private room for nursing, other than the toilet stall. The room should be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, if possible. Finally, California Labor Code 1032 says that break time for breast milk pumping is not required if it will seriously disrupt the operations of the workplace.
Only twenty-four states have laws pertaining to breast-feeding at the workplace. The laws vary from state to state; it is best to check your own state’s labor laws for reference.