Policy Manual

Nursing Mothers Policy

Penn is committed to maintaining a family-friendly workplace and supporting the health and well-being of our faculty and staff. Research shows that nursing mothers feel supported when they have the resources to continue breastfeeding after returning to work. Breastfed babies benefit from their mother’s immunities and may even stay healthier than babies on formula. With these goals in mind, the Penn Nursing Mothers Program was introduced to provide nursing mothers with space and time for managing lactation responsibilities at work.

The following guidelines also comply with the mandates of the Lactation Amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as part of the Affordable Care Act.

415.1 Eligibility

All full- and part-time faculty and staff are eligible to participate in the Nursing Mothers Program.

415.2 Lactation Areas

Schools and centers are expected to provide their faculty and staff members with nursing and lactation space if an appropriate personal office space is not available. The space doesn't need to be permanent or on the immediate premises, but it must be a private space and:

  • not a bathroom
  • shielded from view
  • free from intrusion by co-workers and/or the public, with a door that locks from the inside
  • within a 10-minute walk from the nursing mother’s assigned work area, preferably without having to go outdoors
  • available close to the times when the nursing mother is likely to need the space

Nursing and lactation space should also be equipped with the following:

  • a comfortable chair (preferably upholstered with arms and back support)
  • a table next to the chair (which should be at least 24” x 24” to accommodate a standard breast pump)
  • an electric outlet near the chair and table
  • a light that’s controllable from inside the room
  • a label or door sign that indicates the space is in use
  • a trash can
  • a separation wall, temporary separator, or door that can be used for privacy if the space is being used by more than one nursing mother simultaneously

Schools and Centers

Click here for more tips and guidelines on setting up nursing and lactation space.

Lactation Space Contacts
Contact your school/center’s Human Resource representative or central space management group to help arrange a space or direct you to an existing lactation space.

You can also contact the following resources to help identify nursing and lactation space:

  • Karen Kille, Senior Worklife Consultant, Human Resources. You can contact her at karener@upenn.edu or 215-898-7729.
  • Diane Spatz, Ph.D., RN-BC, Associate Professor at Penn’s School of Nursing. Professor Spatz is a national expert on lactation matters and has extensive experience in helping Penn departments set up nursing and lactation space. You can contact her at spatz@nursing.upenn.edu or 215-898-8100.

415.3 Break Times

Paid break times are allowed for nursing and lactation responsibilities needed by the mother. When possible, breaks should be scheduled during normal break and meal times and/or when workflow allows. Although not a hard-and-fast rule, typically, a nursing mother needs to take a 25- to 40-minute break every three to four hours, including time to get to and from the lactation area.

Supervisors should keep in mind that the frequency and duration of breaks vary from mother to mother depending on their physical needs. There may be occasions when a nursing mother will need to handle nursing and lactation responsibilities at times that aren’t optimally convenient for the office. Supervisors are responsible for creating a supportive environment for nursing mothers so they can adequately manage their nursing and lactation responsibilities.

415.4 Preparing to Return to Work

Before your leave begins, work closely with your supervisor and contact your Human Resources representative for your school or center to set up your plan. If you’re not sure who your Human Resources representative is, check with your business administrator.

Click here for a Nursing Mother’s Plan Document to complete as soon as possible before returning to work.  Human Resources is collecting these plans from school and center Human Resources representatives to maintain oversight of the campus needs for nursing and lactation space. Additionally, this document provides a plan for staff members to follow when stepping away from work (closing a private office door) or from the workplace (using a central nursing and lactation space). It will help you and others affected by your breaks to manage while you are away.

Click here for helpful tips for preparing to return to work and here for community resources to turn to for additional assistance.

415.5 More Information

The Nursing Mothers Program is administered by the Human Resources Quality of Worklife office. If you have questions or need assistance, contact Quality of Worklife at 215-898-0380 or contact us online. You can also refer to the additional resources below for more information.

Additional Resources

Plan Document
Where to Find On-Campus Nursing and Lactation Space
Creating Nursing and Lactation Space
Tips for Nursing Mothers Returning to Work
Resources for Nursing Mothers

Policy Number: 415
Effective Date: 07/23/2015
Supersedes Policy Number(s): 415 (12/15/2011, 02/02/2012)
Applicability:  All full- and part-time faculty and staff

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