Employers and Employer Groups

Space Functionality

Employers continually request additional guidance on space requirements under the "Break Time for Nursing Mothers" law. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee recommends including additional information from the Request for Information on Break Time for Nursing Mothers, including to further define the term "functional" from the FAQ and provide more information on the provision of sinks and refrigerators. Additionally, we recommend the Department add language clarifying that the space should require proper ventilation, lighting, climate control, cleanliness, and freedom from mold, bacteria, and chemical contaminants in any lactation space. To respond to questions regarding breast milk storage, we recommend the Department add language stating that while employers are not required to provide refrigeration options for nursing mothers for the purpose of storing expressed milk, they must allow a nursing mother to bring a pump and insulated food container to work for expressing and storing the milk and ensure there is a place where she can store the pump and insulated food container while she is at work. Additionally, we recommend highlighting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration statement that expressed breast milk is not a biohazard: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/standardinterpretations/1992-12-14

 

Recommended Language for Added FAQ:

Q: What must an employer provide to workers who need to express breast milk in the workplace?

A: The space should have proper ventilation, lighting, climate control, cleanliness, and freedom from mold, bacteria, and chemical contaminants. To be considered functional, at a minimum, the space must contain a place for the nursing mother to sit, and a flat surface, other than the floor, on which to place the pump. Ideally, the space will have access to electricity, so that a nursing mother can plug in an electric pump rather than use a pump with battery power. There are a range of additional features that some employers have included when providing spaces for their employees to use to express breast milk, such as sinks within or nearby the room for washing hands and cleaning pump attachments, and refrigerators within or nearby the room for storing expressed milk. While such additional features are not required, the Department notes that their provision may decrease the amount of break time needed by nursing employees to express milk.

 

While employers are not required to provide refrigeration options for nursing mothers for the purpose of storing expressed milk, they must allow a nursing mother to bring a pump and insulated food container to work for expressing and storing the milk and ensure there is a place where she can store the pump and insulated food container while she is at work. Please note that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration states that breast milk can be safely stored in a shared refrigerator with other food and beverages.

Voting

12 votes
12 up votes
0 down votes
Idea No. 92