Ovia Health’s “Motherhood in America” reports that 70% of working mothers want better breastfeeding support in their workplace. For companies that employ women, this should be a wake-up call: workplaces need to do more to support working mothers. San Francisco is the first city in the nation to require all employers to have a clear lactation accommodation policy and a clean private space to express milk. Make sure you’re in compliance and save time and energy down the road by supporting breastfeeding employees from the start.Need a simple solution for workplace lactation?
Trying to figure out a lactation space for your workplace? Here are the top four most frequently asked questions about lactation spaces:
1) Can a bathroom be used as a lactation space?
Federal law prohibits the use of a bathroom as a workplace lactation accommodation, as does the San Francisco Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance. Plus, who wants to make a meal in a toilet?
2) Can a storage closet be used as a lactation space?
For too long too many working mothers have resorted to pumping in dingy storage closets next to dirty mops and gallons of bleach, but working moms deserve better. The San Francisco ordinance requires a lactation space that’s clean and free of toxins, so storage closets aren’t a viable option.
3) Can a borrowed office or an empty conference room be used as a lactation space?
In a pinch, borrowing an office or conference room can work as a short-term solution. But providing a lactation space is rarely a one-off and borrowing space multiple times a day can cause unnecessary inconvenience and disrupt productivity. Consider how many women work at your organization now, as well as your projections for growth over time. Providing a lactation space for your breastfeeding employees is a demonstrated show of support for the physical and physiological challenges breastfeeding women face when they return to work. Workplaces need a long-term solution that’s solely dedicated to lactation, available to women when they need it, and easily accessible.
4) Do I need a lactation space if I don’t have any breastfeeding employees?
If you don’t yet have any breastfeeding employees, chances are high that you will in the future. Women make up almost half of the American workforce. And many of them are already mothers or planning to have families.
Lactation spaces are a necessity, not a luxury.
In today's workplaces, lactation spaces are not a luxury. They're a necessary accommodation. Lactation spaces don’t need to be elaborate, but they do need to be be private, clean, and comfortable. In addition, they need to be solely designated for pumping so they’re available when breastfeeding employees need them. Finally, most women need to pump every few hours in order to maintain their milk supply, so to maximize their time lactation spaces should also be in close proximity to where women work.
All employers in San Francisco now need to provide a dedicated lactation space, but that’s the right direction for any forward-thinking organization. Workplaces that provide their employees with a dedicated lactation space that’s available to pumping moms when and where they need it sends an important message of support. Proactively providing the best space from the beginning will earn the appreciation of your current employees, reduce the cost of procuring a space down the road, and be a signature amenity to attract and retain future female employees.