OPM has posted a reminder to agencies of their obligations to accommodate employees who are breastfeeding, saying that “supportive work-life policies and practices benefit the employer as well as the employee. Worksites that support nursing mothers result in fewer sick days, higher rates of retention, increased job satisfaction and loyalty, and increased productivity.”

It stressed that by law, the government among other employers must “provide a private space, other than a bathroom, for an employee to express breast milk for up to one year after the birth of an employee’s child.”

“This space must be shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. Federal agencies are required to provide employees a private space, permanent or temporary, consistent with these requirements,” it said. “In recent years, most federal agencies have worked hard to provide employees with the space, time and privacy required by law, while others are just learning about the requirements. While providing the best possible supports is strongly encouraged, agencies are reminded that minimum standards are required even in the most unique situations.”

The minimum requirements are for a space that is free from intrusion and shielded from view and break time for the employee to express milk. Best practices include having the private space lockable from the inside, electrical outlets for breast pumps, chairs and tables, a sink with running hot water, making the break time on-the-clock, a refrigerator that is not shared with employee food, a bulletin board to share resources, and “music and other amenities that create a relaxing environment.”

It cited as model agencies the NSA, NIH and Energy, which have programs that include “prenatal education kits, hosting a new parent open house, teaching on-site prenatal breastfeeding classes, and providing on-site lactation consultants, just to name a few.”