HHS launches solutions for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace

WomensHealth.govJune 24, 2014Articles

An online resource can assist businesses in supporting breastfeeding women at work, Nancy C. Lee, M.D., director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) said today at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) annual conference and exposition. The resource, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions, can be found It proposes ways in which employers can comply with the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to have accommodations for employees who are breastfeeding.

The Affordable Care Act requires employers of hourly workers to provide private space that is not a bathroom and adequate time to allow nursing women to express their milk while they are on the job. Many employers of workers in non-office environments, such as restaurants, retail stores, and manufacturing plants, have reported the need for space solutions to address these requirements.

Dr. Lee said the new online resource is designed to give employers a wide range of options and solutions. “We know that many employers want to support their employees, not just because it’s required, but because it’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Lee. “Today, more than 75 percent of all new mothers begin breastfeeding, and many of them want to continue when they return to work. We created this resource to provide practical solutions to support nursing mothers in the workplace, including the most challenging of worksite settings.” Some examples include:

  • Small pop-up tent for outdoor agricultural workers
  • Converted dressing room in a retail setting
  • Private office area of a manager or coworker
  • Designated space in closet areas
  • Portable lactation stations along a bus route for bus drivers

OWH collaborated with SHRM, the world’s largest HR membership organization, on this initiative to ensure that the information would be useful to organizations seeking to comply with the law. According to Nancy Hammer, SHRM senior government affairs policy counsel, “SHRM is pleased that this initiative is solution-focused with options that are simple and low-cost. Using this resource, employers can find many examples of effective practices in supporting workplace lactation.”

The new resource is available at:

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