Want to Read More? To continue reading this article, please Log in or Register Now

Become a Breastfeeding/Lactation-Friendly Employer Checklist

Author: XpertHR Editorial Team

When to Use

Various laws on the federal, state and local level prohibit discrimination, retaliation and harassment against employees and job applicants who are breastfeeding or lactating. Additionally, numerous laws may require an employer to provide reasonable accommodations in the form of break time for lactation as well as lactation facility accommodations in the form of a location or space. Some of these state and local laws also require an employer to provide a related notice, policy or form.

This checklist may be used by an employer in order to ensure that it is a breastfeeding and lactation-friendly employer and that it complies with the various federal, state and local laws. Employers do not have to complete the following steps in sequential order to properly complete the checklist.

Customizable Checklist

Become a Breastfeeding/Lactation-Friendly Employer Checklist

Assesses a Particular Workplace

  • Determine how many employees will be breastfeeding or lactating and how extensive the breastfeeding/lactation program will need to be.
  • Consider who will manage and oversee the breastfeeding/lactation program (e.g., HR, EEO compliance or another department).
  • Consider how the employer will provide resources in terms of time, space and location.
  • Create a team to address concerns and assess progress.
  • Consult applicable laws and legal requirements relevant to the specific workplace.

Recognize the Benefits of Breastfeeding/Lactation

  • Recognize that a breastfeeding/lactation-friendly environment may result in:
    • Reduced absenteeism;
    • Reduced turnover;
    • Improved morale and productivity;
    • Improved employee loyalty;
    • Positive employer image and reputation; and
    • Healthier employees and babies.

Enact a Policy

  • Consult and comply with applicable laws and legal requirements.
  • Understand the importance of providing support to breastfeeding moms.
  • Draft and implement a policy that provides support and creates a process for how a request to breastfeed at work may be made including:
    • How notice should be provided to the employer (i.e., written, verbal, or email); and
    • Who the request should be made to (e.g., HR, supervisor, EEO officer).
  • Communicate the policy and procedures to request breastfeeding/lactation breaks and accommodations to all employees and supervisors.
  • Keep records of lactation requests.

Create a Designated Lactation Location

  • Consult and comply with applicable laws and legal requirements.
  • Make sure that the designated lactation location is:
    • Comfortable, clean, well-ventilated, adequately lit and safe;
    • Centrally located, easily accessible and appropriately spacious; and
    • Private with a door that locks.
  • Consider providing:
    • A comfortable chair to sit on;
    • A table to place things on;
    • Running water (both cold and hot);
    • A refrigerator;
    • Ample outlets;
    • Wastebaskets;
    • A storage area for breast pumps;
    • Lysol and wipes; and
    • Additional information and support on working and breastfeeding.
  • Determine if the location will be available through a sign-up sheet or whether it will be first-come-first-serve.
  • Consider who will be responsible for cleaning and maintaining the room.
  • Implement additional privacy measures such as blinds or shades.
  • Do not use a bathroom or a closet.

Provide Break and Scheduling Time for Lactation/Breastfeeding

  • Consult and comply with applicable laws and legal requirements.
  • Allow an employee to take at least two to three breastfeeding breaks of 15 to 20 minutes per day to express milk.
  • Determine if an employee will need to use existing break and meal times.
  • Consider whether an employee will need additional time to breastfeed and how this will be handled.
  • Decide if additional flexible measures will assist in providing appropriate break time such as:
    • Flexible hours;
    • Reduced hours;
    • Longer lunch times; and
    • Telecommuting.
  • Arrange for coverage of an employee's duties and responsibilities during lactation/breastfeeding breaks.
  • Consider whether break time will be paid or unpaid.

Provide Support

  • Educate employees and train them on breastfeeding rights and accommodations at work.
  • Train managers on employee rights and how to handle requests for breastfeeding/lactation accommodations.
  • Train employees and managers on applicable policies and the procedures to request breastfeeding breaks/lactation accommodations.

Communicate the Program

  • Communicate the program and available breastfeeding break time and lactation accommodations to all employees and supervisors.
  • Consider putting up signs in the breakroom on workplace bulletin boards.
  • Include communications in employer emails, internal websites and through orientation and onboarding programs.
  • Before employees take maternity leave, advise them of available options/lactation programs.

Expand Childcare Options

  • Allow new mothers to bring breastfeeding infants to work if possible.
  • Provide dependent care, onsite childcare and/or backup day care options.
  • Decide whether flexible hours, telecommuting and/or job sharing can be provided to ease an employee's transition back to work.

Ensure Breastfeeding and Lactating Employees are Treated Fairly

  • Make sure employees who are breastfeeding or lactating do not experience discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
  • Create a process for employees to bring complaints to management regarding unfair treatment or issues related to breastfeeding and lactation.
  • Follow up on any complaints with an investigation.
  • Impose interim and disciplinary measures if necessary.

Elicit Feedback

  • Obtain feedback from employees and supervisors about how the program is working.
  • Monitor and assess progress.
  • Make any necessary changes.

Additional Resources

Breastfeeding Policy

How to Establish Breastfeeding Breaks for Nursing Mothers

Lactation/Breastfeeding Breaks and Facility Accommodation Requirements by State and Municipality

Handle a Lactation Accommodation Request Checklist

Hours Worked: Federal > Breastfeeding Breaks

EEO-Discrimination: Federal > Lactation/Breastfeeding Protections and Accommodations