The affordable care act requires employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.” Employers must also provide a place, which may be used by an employee to express milk. This space must be an area other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion by coworkers and the public. Many states also have laws that go beyond these requirements for nursing mothers. When adding in ADA compliance to the nursing area provided by the workplace, the space must be large enough to accommodate an individual who uses a mobility device; this would include space to turn around and access to an accessible sink. If there are multiple mothers needing the space a room-use schedule can be set, or the employer can provide dividers that ensure each station’s complete privacy. If the accommodations made do not meet the needs of all mothers then the requirements of the law are not being met. For employers reference most women need to express milk two to three times in an eight hour period understanding that lactation needs may vary for each woman and as the child ages.
To go beyond the law and provide best practice appropriate amenities a company should provide the following amenities listed. These amenities will make the employees break time much shorter as all things are stored closely together in one place with less travel time in between. Also consider placing an ADA compliant lactation room sign on the designated room.
The list includes:
- A comfortable chair
- A table or shelf with a flat surface large enough to hold the pump
- Easily located and accessible electrical outlets
- A three foot wide path to maneuver in the room
- An accessible sink with appropriate soap or wipes
- An accessible refrigerator