What Everyone Should Know About Nursing Mothers in the Workplace

Since the passing of the “The Federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers Law”, questions about lactation/breastfeeding areas in the workplace have been popping up left and right. For mothers returning to work, breastfeeding can be an awkward or uncomfortable topic to broach with employers, and for employers to discuss with their “new mom” employees. Where should they pump? How many times a day? What if someone needs to use the restroom while they are pumping? There are a lot of questions which need to be addressed.

Here are a few things everyone should know about nursing mothers in the workplace. From the requirements of the law and how to design a proper space for the mothers.

Regulations For The Workplace

“The Federal Break Time for Nursing Mothers” law was passed on December 21, 2010, and requires employers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act to provide basic accommodations for mothers breastfeeding at work.

(1) An employer shall provide—

(A) a reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has the need to express the milk;

(B) a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk.   

(2) An employer shall not be required to compensate an employee receiving reasonable break time under paragraph (1) for any work time spent for such purpose.         

(3) An employer that employs less than 50 employees shall not be subject to the requirements of this subsection if such requirements would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

(4)  Nothing in this subsection shall preempt a State law that provides greater protections to employees than the protections provided for under this subsection.

This law essentially states businesses with more than 50 employees must provide a space or lactation room for mothers who need to express milk and reasonable time for them to do such. The area must not be a restroom and it must free from others being able to intrude, i.e. have a door, preferably with a lock, so the mother can expect a reasonable degree of privacy.

Ideally, these areas should provide a few more things… like access to an electrical outlet and a table to hold and accommodate breast pump equipment. To make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible for the mother in question, it is also important she is comfortable. Providing a good supporting chair or couch is often vital. Mothers will also need a wastebasket as well as a chemical cleaner for any surfaces including hands, so it is nice to have a sink or wash station in close proximity. It is also helpful if there is a separate refrigerator in which to store the milk. Make sure there’s a sign for the door as well as appropriate lighting and ventilation seeing as they will have to spend a good amount of time in the room over the course of the next few months.

Designing a Lactation Station in the Workplace

Designing a space for mothers to pump can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several ways to create a room even if it seems like the office doesn’t have space. Adding demountable laminate walls as the structure of the room enables employers to redesign the room and office whenever it’s needed. Demountable walls, such as the Sapphire Wall System offered by SKUTCHI Designs, offers unique options such as adding electric and data access points to the walls to provide electricity inside the room (especially handy if the walls block original outlets). Once the walls are up,  putting in a couch or chair—as well as a table—would make the room complete. These walls offer a wide variety of colors so an employer could coordinate with the company colors.   

Let Skutchi Design Your Space for Nursing Mothers

Mothers coming back to work after having a child face a lot of challenges, especially when they are still breastfeeding. Creating an easy transition by making sure they’re comfortable and have everything they’ll need is important.

Lactation areas in the workplace no longer need to be an issue for the mother or the employer. Let SKUTCHI Designs help build out your ideal lactation room. From designing the room through the installation process, SKUTCHI Designs has you covered.