Accommodations owed to new mothers in your office

As an employer in California, you no doubt want to provide whatever elements will help contribute to a productive working environment. That desire is often counterbalanced, however, by the understanding that you can only give to a certain extent when it comes to accommodating employee requests.

The advice given to many people is to understand the accommodation requirements mandated by law. That includes accommodations for your employees who are new mothers just returning to work. One need many may have is needing to express breastmilk during working hours. As this can be a particularly sensitive issue, it behooves you to know what the law requires you to do to assist in this regard, and how you can best meet their needs.

Your legal obligation to new mothers

Per the U.S. Department of Labor, you must provide reasonable break time to new mothers on your staff to allow them to express breast milk. This time should not count against their standard break and/or lunchtimes. In addition, you must provide them with a place where they can comfortably and discreetly see to this (in a place other than your office’s bathroom).

Tips for accommodating nursing mothers at work

You can work with employees needing this accommodation to make the experience work more smoothly for all parties involved. Start by ensuring that they have the location needed to express breast milk in private (perhaps an empty office or conference room) where they can preferably lock the door. Talk with your other employees about rearranging meeting and break schedules in order to maintain productivity while a new mother takes her needed break.

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