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Workplaces prepare to reopen their lactation rooms and welcome back parents. As parents return it is critical we make sure employees are safe, healthy, and feel a sense of belonging, no matter where they do their job.
As workplaces navigate the constantly changing pandemic environment, lactation rooms must be at the top of the list as part of welcoming back employees to the office, no matter how many days a week they’re in-office.
There are very real consequences for reopening businesses without complying with federal, state, and local lactation laws and sanitary standards for lactation rooms.
Parents expect offices to have a lactation room that is stocked, cleaned, and ready to use. Companies never know when a new parent will need to use the room, and many new parents may not want it publicly known they need to use the space.
While reopening work sites, employers must protect nursing parents by cleaning and disinfecting mother’s rooms and the equipment in them should be carried out according to CDC and OSHA guidelines, using EPA-approved products. Healthy Horizons Lactation Room Servicing™ will help you comply with this.
Companies may have placed cafeterias, meditation rooms, shuttle transports, and gyms on hiatus. However, lactation rooms are in a different category. The Federal Fair Labor and Standards Act says employers must provide "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" if they have 50 or more employees.
Simply put, businesses that fail to comply will be at risk of being fined. Federal and state laws set the standards that companies must meet on break times and lactation rooms for employees who pump breast milk. Those spaces and policies have to be in place the day the business reopens, or a company will be considered in violation.
On the federal level there is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law.
This law covers non-exempt employees covered by FLSA. More extensive lactation room protections for working mothers are provided in 32 states that have their own breastfeeding laws. State laws are in addition to the federal laws. Find each state’s specific workplace breastfeeding laws here.
Employers are typically not required to compensate for pumping breaks in most states, although if the employer already provides paid breaks and the employee uses them for pumping, the employee should be paid as usual.
A lactation room is NOT a bathroom. Lactation rooms must be private, safe, clean and comfortable. Lactation rooms should be in close proximity to the employees' workspace.
One of the most frequent issues we see in lactation rooms is lack of adequate privacy. The lactation room must be a private and safe space. The room should be appropriate; no security cameras, no clear or see-through walls, the door should lock, and it must have proper signage.
New parents should not feel stressed about needing to pump milk for their children at work - it can affect their milk production and consequently lead to more sick days. As an employer, you do not want to be on the receiving end of being the reason a mother could not produce milk for her baby. Sometimes privacy isn’t taken into account and this is one of the reasons why lawsuits are initiated.
The room must have a chair, preferably made of leather, vinyl or other wipeable material, a surface for the pump, a second surface for personal items, and an electrical outlet.
A sink with hot water, good lighting, hospital-grade breast pump and refrigerated milk storage are also important to create a usable space for pumping.
HEPA filters can help filter out COVID-19 particles in the Lactation Room. We also recommend stocking the lactation rooms with extra cleaning supplies such as gloves and CaviCide.
What may seem like a practical solution may be an inconvenience for a chest or breastfeeding parent. Be aware of the more common breastfeeding concerns mothers have in order to make your program a success!
Not only are there cost savings, but workplace lactation rooms are an important way to retain valuable employees.
Giving chest and breastfeeding parents workplace lactation support benefits the company and leads to happier and more loyal employees.
Many new parents reconsider returning to work due to the stress, and demand of taking care and feeding their baby. However, if an employer provides a mother’s room, lactation program, and supportive work environment new parents are more likely to return to the workplace and stay!
Contact Healthy Horizons Corporate Lactation Services today to ensure your company has effective family-friendly lactation policies and a proven service for maintaining your Lactation Rooms.