Workplace protections for new mothers

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2021 | employment law | 0 comments

New mothers may have numerous concerns about their jobs and going back to work after giving birth. Beyond worrying about entrusting the care of their newborns to someone else, they may wonder if they may lose standing in the workplace because of their time away or how they will continue to nurse after returning to work.

Understanding their rights may help new mothers receive the protections they deserve as they resume their employment after giving birth.

Maternity leave

The state does not require employers to provide unpaid or paid leave to mothers for the births of their children. However, they may take leave through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the act allows eligible new mothers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time off from their jobs. Upon returning from time off under the FMLA, employers must restore new mothers to their original jobs or equivalent jobs. They cannot reduce new mothers’ pay or benefits or otherwise fault them for taking FMLA leave.

Breaks for breast pumping

According to the Texas Workforce Commission, in following the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, covered employers must allow nursing mothers reasonable breaks to express breast milk. Nursing mothers may take such breaks whenever they need to express milk; however, employers may choose not to pay workers for such breaks. With few exceptions, employers must also provide nursing mothers with a private spot free of disturbances, and other than a restroom, in which to nurse or breast pump.

Experiencing discrimination by their employers may make returning to the workforce after giving birth more challenging for employees. Should employers violate their rights, however, options exist for such workers to see the wrongs against them made right or to recover compensatory damages.