Employers and Employer Groups

Reasonable Break Time: Frequency, Duration, Factors to Consider

As detailed in the Department's Request for Information on Break Time for Nursing Mothers, the amount of time needed is impacted by many factors, including travel time, pump set up, pump break down, cleaning and packing, and milk storage. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee recommends that in assessing the reasonableness of break time provided to a nursing employee, the Department considers all the steps reasonably necessary to express breast milk, not merely the time required to express the milk itself.


Recommended Language for Added FAQ:

Q: How much time is considered "reasonable"?

A: The length of time necessary to express milk varies from person to person. The act of expressing breast milk alone typically takes about 15 to 20 minutes, but there are many other factors that will determine a reasonable break time. Employers should consider these factors when determining how they will provide both reasonable break time and space for nursing mothers. For example, factors such as the location of the space and the amenities nearby (e.g., proximity to employee's work area, availability of sink for washing, location of refrigerator or personal storage for the milk, etc.) can affect the length of break an employee will need to express milk. Some of the factors employers should consider in determining whether the time needed for a nursing employee to express milk is "reasonable" include:

(i) The time it takes to walk to and from the lactation space and the wait, if any, to use the space;

(ii) Whether the employee has to retrieve their pump and other supplies from another location;

(iii) Whether the employee will need to unpack and set up their own pump or if a pump is provided for them;

(iv) The efficiency of the pump used to express milk (employees using different pumps may require more or less time);

(v) Whether there is a sink and running water nearby for the employee to use to wash their hands before pumping and to clean the pump attachments when they are done expressing milk, or what additional steps they will need to take to maintain the cleanliness of the pump attachments;

(vi) The time it takes for the employee to store their milk either in a refrigerator or personal cooler.


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Idea No. 90