Nursing Mothers In The Workplace – What You Need To Know
My Facebook and Instagram apps are full of baby pics from friends who have recently given birth or are posting that they are pregnant and due to give birth (in the near future). So I thought I would share some information for all you new moms, recently new moms (again) and soon to be moms. One of the most immediate decisions you will make as a parent will be deciding how you want to feed your newborn child…breast or bottle? If you decide that you want to breastfeed and like most other woman, you’re a working mom, you may want to discuss some of the accommodations you will need with your employer.
During a recent conversation with a colleague, I realized just how unaware most people still are about new guidelines set forth in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on how to properly accommodate nursing mothers in the workplace.
According to SHRM, the recently enacted law (2010) specifies that employers (subject to the FLSA) must provide nursing mothers with a reasonable break time away from work to be able to express breast milk for up to a year after the child’s birth.
The Act also sates that employers are required to provide a private place, which it defines “as a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusions from coworkers and the general public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.”
I think it’s important to know that a woman that is expressing breast milk for their child is actually preparing food. A bathroom is not the correct (or sanitary) place for food preparation. A small room wide enough to fit a chair and a small table should suffice.
I’ve attached a Powerpoint from the Department of Labor that talks about how employers can comply with the new regulations. If your employer is unaware, send them the info so that you can begin to prepare for any changes that need to be made to accommodate either yourself or other nursing mothers at your workplace. If you’re an HR nerd, go ahead and start the discussion with your teams if it hasn’t been already discussed and have a plan in place should one of your employees need special accommodations.