Updated: Sep 16, 2020
As our country begins learning how to co-exist with COVID-19, and your employees begin returning to the workplace, it has never been more important that you help ensure your workers are returning to a clean and sanitary environment.
This is even more critical for your breast milk pumping women. Your employees that have chosen to feed breast milk to their baby will want to make sure they are returning to a clean work environment where they can pump as needed. In a new study (May/June 2020) conducted by the New Moms’ Healthy Returns team, nearly half of working, breastfeeding moms surveyed said they are more committed to feeding their babies breast milk since the arrival of COVID-19. To that end, now is the time to review your policy surrounding Lactation Accommodation. And if you don’t have a policy yet, we’ll give you some practical guidelines to help get you started.
In a recent online poll we conducted at the HR.com Inspire 2020 event in June, nearly 1/3 of HR respondents said their organizations were doing a Poor or Fair job supporting pumping employees. With that in mind, and based on everything we have learned over the past months about COVID-19, we recommend you review your Lactation Accommodation Policy to ensure it is current and reflects any workplace changes that have been implemented since the pandemic began.
Review Your Current Lactation Accommodations
A Lactation Accommodation Policy clarifies expectations across an organization, demonstrates legal compliance and celebrates support for working families. If you already have a policy in place, you’ll want to review it and adjust it as necessary to comply with recommendations for keeping the pumping space a clean and sanitized area.
Here are a few adjustments you should consider for your space(s):
✓ Make sure that pumping is the ONLY activity allowed for the lactation space; this not only signals your support of breastfeeding but also may limit exposure to viruses.
✓ Be sure the pumping space is kept sanitary by regularly cleaning and disinfecting it, and post a schedule with a log to record completed cleanings on the door so that employees know when it was last cleaned.
Place your lactation space on a cleaning schedule along with other common spaces such as break rooms, bathrooms, etc.
✓Make sure seating and shelving are made of materials that are easy to disinfect
For a complete list of recommendations to adjust your lactation space for the post-COVID world, download our guide:
Writing a Lactation Accommodation Policy
When you write – or update – your Lactation Accommodation Policy, we recommend ensuring it clearly contains the following key elements that should be part of the written policy:
✓ A statement of support that clearly communicates what employees can expect when it comes to breast milk pumping. ✓ Information about the current federal, state and local laws that protect women who choose to breast feed. ✓ Information about where your lactation space(s) will be located, and how employees will access the space. ✓ A communication plan for how you will inform current and future employees about lactation accommodations and policies.
Our partners at Mamava wrote a helpful, detailed article about how to write a Lactation Accommodation Policy. They also included links to sample policies you can review as you get started!
Keeping an up-to-date Lactation Accommodation Policy is a great way to show employees your commitment to supporting them and their families’ priorities. It also goes a long way in helping to retain employees and keep them engaged and loyal to your company.