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Breastfeeding Policies at Work

Two women talk to each other, with machinery behind them.

Many businesses find that having a policy helps ensure that all employees will have access to consistent support. A policy also helps clearly define the roles and responsibilities for both supervisors and employees. Ultimately, this helps bring about a worksite culture that normalizes lactation support as an accepted part of work-life balance.

Businesses establishing policies should include provisions that align with the requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), including the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision under Section 7(r). This requires businesses to provide both reasonable time and private space for nursing women to express milk at work. Policies should also align with any state laws that provide greater support. (See Laws Protecting Working Moms.)


The following components can be considered.

Time:

Ways the business can provide breaks for nursing women to express milk include:

  • Scheduled milk expression breaks, taking breaks as part of regular breaks and meal periods provided, taking breaks on an as-needed basis, or working out breaks on a case-by-case basis with the supervisor;
  • Whether milk expression breaks will be compensated; and
  • How extra time beyond regular breaks will be accommodated.

Space:

Descriptions for private areas where women can express milk include:

  • Permanent space exclusively designated for milk expression;
  • Flexible space such as conference rooms, private offices, storage rooms, etc.;
  • Outdoor or mobile options;
  • Basic amenities that will be available to make the space functional in accordance with the Department of Labor; and
  • How the space will be made private.

Roles and Responsibilities:

Roles and responsibilities for supervisors and employees include:

  • Supervisors can assume responsibility for informing pregnant women about their options for expressing milk if they desire accommodations and for working out scheduling and space for individual employees as needed.
  • Employees can assume responsibility for notifying supervisors as soon as possible of their needs, and for keeping the milk expression space clean.

Other Support Options:

Options for additional support to help nursing moms continue breastfeeding include:

  • Options available for women to store their milk;
  • Whether breast pumps or other equipment will be provided or subsidized by the company;
  • Education or access to professional support available;
  • Information about employees' legal rights, and options for filing complaints, if needed; and
  • Provisions requiring that all new construction include space for milk expression.

DOWNLOAD A SAMPLE POLICY

(Available from the HHS Maternal and Child Health Bureau's Business Case for Breastfeeding)


Content last updated September 17, 2014.

Resources last updated April 15, 2014.

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