Approaching your boss about pumping at work
The idea of returning to work after having a baby can be daunting in and of itself. But the idea of returning to work and asking for pumping privileges can take daunting to a new level completely! When I pumped at work there were no laws in place mandating my employer give me the time and the space to do so. I was fortunate enough to have an office--tiny as it was--and pray that no one knocked on my door or heard the pump going. It was nerve-wracking to say the least.
Now, there's a federal law in your favor. It's called Break Time for Nursing Mothers and it requires companies with 50 employees or more to provide reasonable time and private space (a bathroom does not qualify) to pump until the baby is one year old. But that doesn't mean it's easy to bring up the topic with your boss and, as always, there are certain ways you can go about the big "ask" that might make things easier for you. An article in U.S. News and World Report had some great advice for ways to go about it. Among the pointers:
- Contact your human resources department first and let them know you want to pump at work
- Check your state law. Some states have laws in effect that go further than, and override, the federal law
- Don't wait until you get back to work to ask. Do it while you're on maternity leave. This gives your workplace time to figure out how to accommodate your needs.
- Contact your boss about it first through an email so he/she is not taken by surprise and put on the spot. Any boss will appreciate having time to think it through first. This is especially important if you think your boss might be uncomfortable talking about it.
- Be prepared to back up how your desire to pump can actually be good for your company--keep healthcare costs down, lead you to be more productive, you might take fewer sick days because your baby will be getting breast milk for longer etc.
- Be flexible and willing to work longer hours to make up for the break time
- Know your rights---the law is on your side. You can bring that up if necessary but do so in a gentle way, don't try to do it by strong-arming them. You want to make them feel that they are partnering with you in this. For instance, you might say something along the lines of, "I really want to do this so thought it might be good to talk about a way that works for both you (the company) and me
The article has some other good points too so check it out.
The bottom line is that it is your right to pump at work and be given the time and proper place to do so. But as always, there's a diplomatic way to handle it that will make it easier for you and your boss! What's your story? Did you have a tough time or an easy time approaching your boss about this? We want to know. Click on "Story of the Week" and tell us.