While the law requires employers to accommodate nursing mothers – what is missed is that often these accommodations are only provided AFTER a lactating mom ASKS for them instead of having it OFFERED when they return. While this seems like a simple switch, it would have made all the difference to me in returning to work if my employer had started the conversation instead of me. If instead of me asking where can I pump and my employer looking for space I would have liked my employer to say, we have this place arranged for you - when are you going to be in need of it? Or instead of me figuring out washing and storage - instead my employer saying, you can store your milk here, and you can wash your supplies here. I think a shift of this burden from the already anxious often sleep deprived mother returning to work, and moving it instead to the employer would make it easier for lactating working mothers. As a best practice, employers could have a designated point person, perhaps in HR, who reaches out to the nursing mother. He/She could explain what arrangements have been made to support her, ask if anything additionally needs to be arranged and meet with her to help her transition back in the early days. This point person could also advise the supervisor of any needs the mother has. Direct supervisors while they may be supportive of lactation at work, should not be the ones mainly in charge of this. The mother may be uncomfortable expressing her needs to someone also overseeing her work. She may be hesitant to express her personal needs in fear the supervisor will think she values this over her work. If the issue is treated more formally with an HR person, this may 1) allow the employer to have one person to hold accountable for helping the mother with what she needs – and also is well versed in the laws and building accommodations that are in place, and 2) Allows the mother a contact outside of someone who directly supervises her work to express her needs without fear of it impacting any assessment on her work.
Idea No. 119