Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:40 PM ET, 01/ 3/2011

Federal breast-feeding policy detailed

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated 5:48 p.m. ET
Federal workers who need to breast-feed on the job should be given a reasonable amount of time, must be provided access to a clean, private room and might not be paid while doing so, according to new government personnel rules.

Administration officials quietly released changes to the government's breast-feeding policy shortly before Christmas, soon after President Obama ordered updates to how federal agencies and departments accommodate breast-feeding mothers.

The changes, outlined in a memo issued by the Office of Personnel Management, apply to all breast-feeding employees of the executive branch and were among several provisions related to workplace health and safety in last year's health-care law.

"As the nation's largest employer, the federal government strives to be a leader in the promotion of wellness programs and progressive workforce policies," OPM Director John Berry said in his memo to agency personnel chiefs.

According to the memo, agencies and departments must provide employees with "a reasonable break time to express breast milk" up to one year after the birth of a child. Breast-feeding employees must be given access to a private area other than a restroom that is shielded from public view and intrusion by coworkers.

Federal personnel rules do not require compensation for workers who take breaks to breast-feed or express milk, but several agencies provide compensated breaks of 15 minutes each in the morning and afternoon that employees could use for breast-feeding, the OPM said.

OPM officials could not immediately say Monday by when the changes must take effect, but several agencies have existing breast-feeding policies that would require few changes.

The changes should bring the executive branch in line with the legislative branch. House office buildings contain four private breast-feeding rooms, and Senate offices and committees are also expected to make accommodations for breast-feeding employees.

Federal unions and worker associations have pushed the Obama administration to adopt similar workplace accommodations as a way of keeping the federal sector on par with private employers that provide greater work-life flexibility.

Federally Employed Women, which advocates for the advancement of women in government, called the changes "a great way to attract those younger workers who would be having babies early in their careers." Other unions have said such perks could help agencies attract and retain younger employees who might not otherwise apply for federal jobs.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | January 3, 2011; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Health Care, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Navy's quick condemnation of Capt. Owen Honors wins praise of gay rights groups
Next: D.C. schools general counsel tapped to lead Legal Services Corp.

Comments

So are the babies at work with the mothers all day?

Posted by: Jsuf | January 3, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Jsuf, no the babies are not at work with the mothers all day. The policy allows mothers that return to work to pump their breastmilk for later feedings.

Posted by: jp13 | January 3, 2011 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I could volunteer to help some of the comely younger mothers to express their milk.

Posted by: slipuvalad | January 3, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

That's great news. Kudos to the feds.

Posted by: bobcat2 | January 3, 2011 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey , not saying the mom's shouldn't get it but I want a 15 minute break with privacy twice a day too!!

Posted by: 10bestfan | January 3, 2011 2:15 PM | Report abuse

@10bestfan The extra breaks are easy; just have a child, then they'll be obligated to give them to you. *grin* If you're male, then I guess we're both outta luck.

Posted by: InsertWittyUsernameHere | January 3, 2011 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I always found it amusing when people complained about nursing moms breaking to pump and then would take 5 smoke breaks/day.

Posted by: mjp3md | January 3, 2011 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I always found it amusing when people complained about nursing moms breaking to pump and then would take 5 smoke breaks/day.
-----

Even funnier when they were one in the same...

Posted by: ozpunk | January 3, 2011 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The Senate has breast feeding rooms already.

Posted by: bpdc28 | January 3, 2011 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I find these "new" executive branch rules hilarious. The Pentagon has had expressing rooms for over ten years...does that make the rest of the executive branch less progressive then the "knuck-dragging" Pentagon? And Pentagon employees had no problems related to time to nurse (how progressive---up to 1 year), or using your breaks---do men and women use their breaks to use the restroom? no; then nursing mothers don't use their breaks for this natural function either. Two 15 minute breaks will not help a nursing mother---babies eat more often than two breaks and that is how a mother's breast works, timed to the babies schedule, not the work schedule....why women don't nurse for very long, some bureaucrat's idea about nursing!

Posted by: mil1 | January 3, 2011 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: mil1 "Two 15 minute breaks will not help a nursing mother---babies eat more often than two breaks and that is how a mother's breast works, timed to the babies schedule, not the work schedule"
--------------------------
It worked fine for us. Nurse the baby before leaving for work, pumping break mid morning (9ish), pump again during lunch break (1ish) again at 4ish (second break) and then you are ready to nurse soon as you get home. I have never know a nursing mother to need to pump more that every 3-4 hours. Yes the babies may eat more often, but you don't have to pump that often.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | January 4, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: mil1 "Two 15 minute breaks will not help a nursing mother---babies eat more often than two breaks and that is how a mother's breast works, timed to the babies schedule, not the work schedule"
--------------------------
It worked fine for us. Nurse the baby before leaving for work, pumping break mid morning (9ish), pump again during lunch break (1ish) again at 4ish (second break) and then you are ready to nurse soon as you get home. I have never know a nursing mother to need to pump more that every 3-4 hours. Yes the babies may eat more often, but you don't have to pump that often.

Posted by: schnauzer21 | January 4, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

At least some progress is being made in this regard. At the company I work for, there is an extra small supply closet that is offered to nursing mothers. I find it hard to believe that in a 12 story building this is the best we can come up with.

Posted by: mbrumble | January 4, 2011 8:48 AM | Report abuse

If the nursing mom's get the breaks then I just want the breaks too..I don't want to have kids, and no I don't smoke!

Posted by: soccerhead | January 4, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

I am at a loss for words. What area of

employment, permits mothers to bring

their nursing infants to work? Work and

nursing are two entities that should be

kept separated, like church and state, if

you follow. Once again, we observe the

United States operating within the

restrictive parameters of permissiveness,

in the same manner that the United States

does not operate within the parameters of

doing the right thing, if you follow. In

addition, Americans have elected a

president that has wholeheartedly

endorsed these and other sentiments

because he is not only a Liberal, but he is

indeed the worst President in the history

of the United States. Discipline no

longer exists in our institutions in the

United States, delineating the deplorable

state of our Union that we observe today.

Posted by: dennishabern1 | January 6, 2011 7:04 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company