Need a Mamava Where You Work? Start Here.
Use this step-by-step guide to spearhead a mama movement where you work and ensure that your workplace provides appropriate lactation accommodations for all breastfeeding employees.
Looking for accommodations in a public venue instead? Here's help.
1) Know your workplace rights.
Many breastfeeding moms are covered by workplace laws that require lactation accommodations, but unfortunately, not all moms are. If you’re paid hourly, you’re covered by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which mandates employers provide break time and a private lactation space—that’s not a bathroom—for breastfeeding employees. This law does not apply to salaried employees. Many states, however, have even stronger laws that mandate lactation accommodations and protections for all working breastfeeding moms. So look into your state workplace laws so you can present relevant information to leaders in your organization.
2) Connect with HR leaders.
Ask the person(s) who handles your benefits if your workplace has a written lactation accommodation policy. If not, this is an important first step for your organization’s leaders to take. A written lactation policy not only documents your rights as a breastfeeding employee, it also ensures that lactation accommodations are a priority rather than an afterthought. If you’re looking for examples of workplace lactation accommodation policies, the San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) provides excellent models, as well as sample lactation accommodation request forms.
3) Make the business case for breastfeeding.
Supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace isn’t just good for moms and babies—it’s also good for businesses. Talk with the person or department at your workplace who tracks hiring and retention. One study showed that having lactation support at work correlated with 94% retention rate. Research also suggests that supporting breastfeeding employees can boost employee loyalty, lower a company’s healthcare costs (breastfed babies tend to get sick less often, which can reduce the number of sick days moms need to take), and is far more cost-effective than replacing and training lost workers. Need help articulating how easy it can be to provide lactations accommodations in the office? Share this page with your employer.)
4) Find the mom champions in your workplace.
Moms have been breastfeeding for, well, as long as mammals have been having babies. But providing workplace lactation accommodations is a fairly recent development. Supporting breastfeeding women is, however, an issue that affects women across all job sectors and job titles. So first identify allies at every level of your workplace. From CEOs to school superintendents, you’ll find leaders willing to listen and to make changes. Then connect with other moms (and dads!) at work to have personal conversations about breastfeeding. It might feel awkward at first, but the more you can normalize talking about breastfeeding, the more normal it will be to provide the support working breastfeeding moms need. Remember, supporting breastfeeding isn’t just about helping moms—it’s about helping working families balance their personal and professional goals.
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