Pumping At Work? Many Bosses Won't Give You The Time Or Place

   By drodriguez  May 16, 2011

A recent ABC News report discusses the findings of a national survey, conducted by Workplace Options, that shows employers have a long way to go before satisfying the needs of breast feeding workers.

More than half (56 percent) of working moms surveyed do not have a clean and private place to pump on the job. Some 36 percent report that they do not even have a flexible enough schedule to take pumping breaks throughout their work day.

Many thought it would be easier by now to pump on the job since a change to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) went into effect last year requiring many employers to provide breaks and a clean place (not a bathroom) for their employees to pump.

So why are some employers not complying with the new requirements set out by the FLSA? One reason is that the new law only applies to hourly wage workers and organizations with more than 50 workers.

It’s also possible that since the law is only a year old that not everyone is aware it even exists yet. Staff attorney at ACLU Women Rights Project, Galen Sherwin, urges women to speak up to their employers when it comes to pumping at work. Sherwin says, “It’s important for women to remember this law is new. When they’re asking employers for a clean, private place to pump, they’re not just asking for themselves but for their co-workers and the women that come after them.”

Do you think employers should be required to supply breast feeding workers with adequate break time as well as a clean and private area to pump?

Please share your personal stories about pumping on the job and whether your employer follows the new regulations.

Make a Comment

Shoppinglizzard by Shoppinglizzard | GULF BREEZE, FL
May 17, 2011

I was also very fortunate when my Son was an infant I worked in Labor and Delivery. I was able to go to the nursery whenever I needed to pump with a hospital grade pump, as long as I was not in the operating room. I recommend hospital grade pumps for all working Mom's. They get the job done in a timely manner, unlike most over the counter breats pumps.

BMDsMommy by BMDsMommy | Montgomery, TX
May 17, 2011

It makes me sick to think that a work environment cannot provide this to their employees. I am blessed to work for a big company that provides a "mother's room" with hospital grade pumps, a refrigerator and dedicated booths for you to have privacy. Having a woman pump in the bathroom was the norm in the 80s, but come on, we are in the 2011...get with the program!

whiterabbit8520 by whiterabbit8520 | Snow Camp, NC
May 17, 2011

My youngest is now 6, but after her birth and my return to work, finding a place to pump was difficult. They did not actively discourage it. They just didn't provide for it or encourage it. It was difficult to get privacy as the bathrooms had multiple stalls and therefore no locks on the main doors--and of course no area to sit and pump. I finally found a place one floor down from where my office was located and on the opposite side of my office building. It was a room connected to a part time nurses station that contained a bathroom as well as a small privacy screen and chair. Bonus: the door locked and I was able to switch a small sign to indicate that it was in use. Even with that however, on several different occasions, I had supervisors from various departments completely ignore the "occupied" sign and locked door, and use their key to enter the room. That resulted in embarassing situations when those people happened to be male. :/

karenelaine75 by karenelaine75 | Oklahoma City, OK
May 17, 2011

I was fortunate that I was able to bring my baby to the law firm I worked at for the 1st year of his life (I am a legal Secretary). I he a bassinette and a play pen behind my desk so I was able to interact with him all day long and feed him as needed. My bosses understood and I worked soo much better not having to worry about my baby. Our Clients even liked seeing him there.

laurahoffmanlee by laurahoffmanlee | New York, NY
May 17, 2011

I was incredibly fortunate. My employer when I was nursing was Columbia University. Not only did they provide a lactation room but they equipped it with a hospital grade pump, lots of purell and sold kits for a discount and provided lockers for all my gear. It was trickier when I wasn't at my office. I spent some time pumping in borrowed offices at a Park Avenue venture capital firm and a midtown law firm, trying to tote everything around without anyone seeing what I was doing! I don't know what I would have done without those accommodations.

Kellie3065 by Kellie3065 | TRAPPE, PA
May 17, 2011

Employers provide smokers adequate break time and a place to smoke which is detrimental to the employees health. They should, absolutely, provide adequate break time and a place for nursing mothers to pump for the well being of their child! My employer provides a room for this purpose only and I have plenty of break time to pump. I know others who are not so fortunate.

didama by didama | MAPLEWOOD, NJ
May 17, 2011

I so believe that! I worked at a big company when I had my first and went back to work, Thank goodness I had an office that I could use to pump. The pumping room at our office was right next to the smoking room! How crazy is that?!