When an employee returns from maternity leave, she wants to be a productive and profitable employee. But having a baby can drastically change your lifestyle. Including adjusting to needing to express milk - even at work.
Employers love open plan spaces, a trend of traditional new office build or restructures are typically seeing more and more open plan spaces being utilised. They have been seen to save money, typically increase productivity, collaboration and creativity.
All sounds great right? Great for the general employee, working environment, and employer, however after returning from maternity leave nursing mothers often could be left out of the design.
NO PRIVACY TO PUMP
Typically a lactation space isn’t top of the priority list when designing office spaces, and nursing mothers are often left to improvise. Open plan spaces can often be noisy and distracting, and if a mother wants a private space to pump, this is often lacking.
One study found that 60% of women didn’t have access to a private space at work to express milk.¹ The health benefits for both mother and baby are well documented, so for these barriers to continue simply because of an office layout is unacceptable.
The only private space available usually ends up being a bathroom. This is less than ideal as this can be unhygienic and uncomfortable for a mother trying to express milk, not to mention if there is only one bathroom in the facility.
We’ve also heard stories of mothers having to use conference rooms or a storage closets! But often these have to be booked out with advance notice, and again can be unhygienic and cramped.
Pumping can be one of the most challenging aspects of the transition back into the workplace, especially when breaks, space and hygiene are concerned. New mothers need to express milk as often as they feed their child at home, which means 3-4 times during the typical workday. With at least 15 minutes per session for set up and cleaning.
PUMPING ISN’T A PRIVILEGE, IT’S THE LAW
America is paving the way toward better rights for breastfeeding employees by introducing specific lactation laws that dictate employers requirement to provide a lactation space other than a restroom, and reasonable break time to non exempt (hourly) employees needing to breast pump. Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, and the further Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA) require this to be available for one year after the child’s birth - every time a mother needs to express milk.
In some states, such as California, state laws exceed this and state that all non-exempt and exempt employees be provided with a private space to breast pump.
In the UK workplace regulations require employers to conduct a risk assessment and to provide a space for breastfeeding mothers to rest upon their return to work. And the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states that a bathroom is not a suitable place to express milk, and that employers should provide a private, safe and hygienic space for mothers to express milk.
A NEW KIND OF PRIVACY
At KwickScreen, we believe all mothers deserve a private, clean and comfortable place to breastfeed and pump - whether they are at work or not.
Or privacy screens can provide completely private, dignified and hygienic spaces to be created in an instant. Our screens are all retractable, which enables space to remain multifunctional. A closed off area for mothers to pump when they need, and open plan or available for other members of staff when they don’t.
Our privacy screens can be extended to corner off an area, and with an internal lock and handle are completely secure. When not in use, they can be retracted back into the base and the space will function as usual.
To maintain your career and support your family is difficult to balance, and returning to work should be as stress-free as possible. Happy employees means a good working environment for everyone, and a more profitable business.
Don’t leave your nursing mums out of the design.
Have a look at our newly launched partner brand Lactl for everything privacy and pumping in the workplace!