Nursing Mothers

Henrico County supports nursing mothers and is committed to ensuring that our employees have a smooth transition into the workplace after childbirth.  In accordance with the Fair Labor Standards Act, Henrico County provides employees with a reasonable break time and place to express breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child’s birth. If further assistance is needed, please contact Employee Relations.

Nursing Mothers Topics:

Time and Leave Usage

  • An employee may use the unpaid break and the paid breaks for expressing milk. If the time needed exceeds the paid and unpaid breaks provided by the county, the employee may use unpaid time or may use annual leave, holiday leave, and compensation time. The employee may also request to work longer days to avoid the use of paid leave or docked (unpaid) leave.
  • Employers are required to give a reasonable break time. Reasonable will be determined by the employer after conversations with the employee. The county has many different departments with different functions. Each request will be evaluated on a case‐by‐case basis. Call Human Resources for assistance at 501‐4273.       
  • Break time used to express milk is not considered FMLA time. Expressing milk at work does not constitute bonding with or caring for a newborn child and is not typically associate with a serious health condition under the FMLA. FMLA leave is not used for reasons not covered by the FMLA.
  • Each break is reviewed and must be approved by Human Resources for compliance with applicable laws, rules, etc. Variables such as device used and nature of work factor into the break schedule.
  • When not available for work due to pumping, absence will be handled as leave ‐ either paid or unpaid or with flexing the work schedule. Approval from Department and Human Resources is required.
  • An employee may be required to postpone the scheduled break time if she cannot be spared from her duties.
  • The Virginia House Joint Resolution No. 145 2002 and the FLSA both indicate that breaks for expressing milk is covered for 1 year after the child’s birth.
  • Employees cannot be working during the time milk is being expressed. This time is designated as “unavailable” for work duties.

Pumping Location

  • If an employee’s department does not have a private area, a space temporarily created or converted into a space for expressing milk when needed is sufficient according to the Act. It must be other than a bathroom.

Milk Storage

  • Employees are responsible for the proper storage of perishable items. If your department has a refrigerator and it is for employee use, you may confirm with your supervisor your use of it.
  • If your department doesn’t have a refrigerator, you will have to provide your own storage. Please confirm with your supervisor what is appropriate if you are providing your own storage.

Required Communication

  • Employees must notify their department prior to return to work. The notification allows for the department to prepare and allows for smoother transition. A minimum of 5 work days which is the same notification for returning to work after release from a health care provider is acceptable, however, the more time the better.
  • Employers are permitted to ask pregnant employees if they intend to take breaks to pump milk upon returning to work, as noted by the federal government.
  • Employees will need to notify their department and the Human Resources Employee Relations. A conversation is preferable and will need to include details such as the break times needed to express milk, the likely duration of those times, how you intend on storing the milk, and any other information you believe will be helpful. Your supervisor or Human Resources should follow up with a written document or email. Changes in schedule will need to be communicated to your supervisor to ensure clear understanding.