Education

Jobs in education are projected to grow 9% through 2026, adding almost 1 million new jobs, while enrollment is projected to increase at all levels of education.1 Almost 3 out of every 4 people working in education are women.2 View and share lactation break time and space success stories from schools, universities, and libraries.

Expand all
|
Collapse all

Lactation break time and space in schools

In a school district with older buildings, creating a dedicated lactation space might not be possible, but a flexible or temporary space is probably available. Principals and school administrators may need to be flexible in staffing for lactation breaks to ensure continued coverage in all classrooms. Only employees who are non-exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime pay requirements are entitled to breaks to express milk, but many schools provide lactation support to all employees. While employers are not required under FLSA to provide breaks to nursing mothers who are exempt from the overtime pay requirements of Section 7, employers may be obligated to provide such breaks under state laws or union regulations. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers requirement can be seen on the FLSA minimum wage poster (PDF file, 147 KB) or notice that must be posted in worksites covered by FLSA.

  • Time. While many employees use regular break times and meal periods to pump or express milk, it can be difficult for busy teachers to break away from the classroom when they need to pump. A commitment by school administration to provide a sub or floater teacher for employees who are breastfeeding is one of the keys to success. Hourly employees in schools can clock out if pumping breaks take longer than the standard break period. Flexibility on the part of both employer and employee is necessary when a mother is breastfeeding. Supervisors should be aware of the need for lactation breaks if there is unscheduled overtime or extended duty hours.
  • Space. In schools, employees may need to use existing space, such as a small office, the nurse’s office, a teacher resource room, or a screened-off area of a conference room, to express or pump milk. While some teachers report having to pump milk in the classroom while no students are present, this is not an optimal solution from a privacy standpoint. Also, non-exempt hourly employees, such as maintenance or food service staff, may not have access to classrooms and will need alternate lactation space under the Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision of FLSA. Lactation space must not be in a bathroom. Learn more about what employers need to know about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

Lactation break time and space in universities

Colleges and universities with multiple buildings on a large campus may need to create a formal lactation policy to ensure all employee needs are met across campus. Colleges and universities may also consider providing lactation space for students and visitors. Under FLSA, employers must provide reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom for covered, non-exempt breastfeeding employees. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers FLSA requirement can be seen on the FLSA minimum wage poster (PDF file, 147 KB) or notice that must be posted in worksites covered by FLSA.

  • Time. Many employees use regular break times and meal periods to pump or express milk. Employees who live near campus may be able to return home to breastfeed a baby in person. Hourly employees who need additional time can clock out during pumping breaks. Some universities and colleges do not track extra break time for pumping, since it is a temporary situation. Supervisors should be aware of the need for lactation breaks if there is unscheduled overtime or extended duty hours.
  • Space. Colleges and universities might consider existing spaces such as libraries and locker rooms where private cubicle areas can be created for lactation. Faculty and administrators may prefer to use their own private offices or an empty office in an administration building for pumping or expressing milk. Faculty and student lounge areas may be able to accommodate a screened-off area for lactation. Hourly employees without office space may need access to a dedicated lactation area. Lactation space must not be in a bathroom. Learn more about what employers need to know about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

Lactation break time and space in libraries

Libraries vary widely in the available space for lactation. Some may be able to support both staff and members of the public who are breastfeeding. Under FLSA, employers must provide reasonable break time and a private lactation space that is not a bathroom for covered, non-exempt breastfeeding employees. The Break Time for Nursing Mothers FLSA requirement can be seen on the FLSA minimum wage poster (PDF file, 147 KB) or notice that must be posted in worksites covered by FLSA.

  • Time. Many employees use regular break times and meal periods to pump or express milk. Hourly employees who need additional time can clock out during pumping breaks. Coworkers or supervisors may be able to cover for an employee during a pumping break. Flexibility on the part of the employer and employee is necessary during times a mother is breastfeeding. Supervisors should be aware of the need for lactation breaks if there is unscheduled overtime or extended duty hours.
  • Space. Libraries with an empty cubicle space of any kind may be able to create a private lactation space with just a few modifications, such as a curtain or screen. Larger libraries may be able to convert an empty office into a lactation space if there is need among staff or the public. A corner in a staff lounge can also be screened off to create private space. Local libraries might consider sharing space with employees working in nearby small businesses, and even providing space for local nursing mother’s groups if possible. Lactation space must not be in a bathroom. Learn more about what employers need to know about the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.

Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Education, Training, and Library Occupations. Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2018). Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, Table 11: Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

Video success stories in education

Lactation break time and space in an elementary school

Video thumbnail. Caption reads: Amy Waterman, Third Grade Teacher
Play video

Macdonough Elementary School in Connecticut supports breastfeeding moms with private space and scheduling solutions that provide time to express milk.

Lactation break time and space in a high school

Video thumbnail. Caption reads: Rosa Vargas, School Nurse
Play video

Middletown High School in Connecticut supports breastfeeding moms with flexible places to express milk at work, and flexible schedules for nursing women.

Lactation break time and space in a university

Video thumbnail. Caption reads: Lisceth Cruz, Doctoral Student
Play video

At the University of California, Davis, a campus-wide lactation support program provides services for breastfeeding employees, faculty, and students.

Lactation break time and space in a library

Video thumbnail. Caption reads: But once I saw the room I know that I can do it for the whole year.
Play video

The Library of Congress provides a suite for breastfeeding moms with four private milk expression rooms decorated with framed photos from the library archives.

Space solutions for all industries

Video thumbnail. Caption reads: Who'd have thought that we'd be talking about lactation in the fire service.
Play video

Breastfeeding women in hourly jobs have many solutions for private space to express milk at work. Several companies showcase their creative options.