Why Your Workplace Needs a Lactation Accommodation Policy
By Sascha Mayer, Mamava Co-Founder + Chief Brand Officer
From hiring practices to family-friendly benefits, many workplaces are striving to create a more equitable culture for all employees—including those who are breastfeeding. In addition to providing a workplace lactation space, employers who also provide a written lactation accommodation policy help foster a culture that normalizes breastfeeding. If your organization is looking to codify its approach to supporting pumping at work, here are the key factors to consider.
Document a clear lactation accommodation policy and process
Putting your lactation accommodation process in writing is key to clarifying expectations for all employees about workplace lactation space and break time. A written policy not only demonstrates that your company understands what breastfeeding employees need to pump at work—a comfortable private space that’s not a bathroom and reasonable break time to express milk (which includes setting up a pump and cleaning pump parts)—but also eliminates the additional burden of employees having to explain what they need, and why, to supervisors or managers.
Educate all employees on workplace lactation accommodation laws
Providing a private lactation space at work is not just a “nice-to-have” amenity—often it’s the law. In addition to the federal “Break Time for Nursing Mothers'' act from 2010, many states now have far more robust and comprehensive laws. Know the law(s) in your state and share this information in your lactation accommodation policy to acknowledge both employee rights and employer responsibilities.
Use inclusive language
Many breastfeeding parents identify as women and mothers, but not all. As with other DEI initiatives, the goal is to demonstrate empathy and acknowledgement of a range of perspectives in your organization’s materials. Using inclusive language in your lactation accommodation policy underscores your commitment to creating a culture and space that supports all breastfeeding parents.
Support managers to improve support for breastfeeding employees.
People who have never breastfed (or don’t know a breastfeeding parent), may not understand what breastfeeding employees need. Providing education for managers and supervisors about the physiology of breastfeeding—why breastfeeding employees need to pump on a predictable schedule, what kind of space they need, and what happens if they can’t pump—helps create a supportive culture by reducing potential misunderstandings between employees and supervisors.
Create a lactation-positive culture by normalizing pumping at work.
A workplace that’s truly inclusive creates a culture that celebrates and supports breastfeeding. Providing clear guidance about lactation accommodations policies—including detailed information about where employees can pump and their legal right to reasonable break time to pump—is a benefit and boon for everyone at the company and signals equity across the board.