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1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

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Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual - Policy 2750: Lactation Support Program

Date Originally Issued: 12-17-2015

Process Owner: Director, Women's Resource Center

1. General

The University of New Mexico recognizes the health, family, and societal benefits of breastfeeding children.  It supports all students and employees who choose to continue breastfeeding their children after they return to school or work, whether they be birth mothers, non-birth mothers, or transgender parents. The decision to continue to breastfeed when returning to school or work often depends upon the availability of a suitable place to pump or nurse and the time to do it.  For these reasons, and in order to comply with federal and state law, the University provides lactation rooms and reasonable break periods for breastfeeding.  For employees, these break periods are considered paid time.

2. Definitions

For the purposes of this policy:

The terms “breastfeeding” and “lactation” are used interchangeably and intended to include pumping or expressing milk, as well as nursing directly from the breast. 

The term “lactation room” is intended to refer to a comfortable, private room, other than a bathroom stall or locker room, containing a supportive chair, a table, an easily accessible electrical outlet, and a door that can be locked from the inside.  This definition includes the lactation stations overseen by the Women’s Resource Center (see Section 7). 

The term “employee” is intended to be interpreted broadly to refer to all staff, faculty, and student employees (including graduate student assistants).

3. Legal Protections for Breastfeeding

On the federal level, a 2010 amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 USC § 207(r)(1)-(4), requires employers to provide employees who are not exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements with “reasonable break time” to express breast milk for a nursing child for up to one year after the child’s birth “each time such employee has need to express the milk.”  The employer must provide “a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.” 

Two New Mexico statutes extend protections for breastfeeding.  Under NMSA 1978, § 28-20-2 (“Use of a breast pump in the workplace”), the University must provide nursing mothers who are employees with a space for using a breast pump.  The space must be clean and private, near the employee’s workspace, and not a bathroom stall.  The statute also requires the University to offer the nursing mother flexible break times to pump that are “in addition to established employee breaks.” 

The second New Mexico statute, NMSA 1978, § 28-20-1 (“Right to breastfeed”), provides that “A mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be present.”

4. Roles in Requesting and Accommodating Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding students and employees should not be asked to provide medical documentation to prove the need to breastfeed their children.  Students and employees are responsible for clearly informing their instructors or supervisors that they need breaks for breastfeeding and for using breastfeeding breaks in an appropriate manner.  The Women’s Resource Center, Office of Equal Opportunity, and Human Resources Division can provide guidance to supervisors and instructors on breastfeeding breaks.

4.1. Students

Students planning to breastfeed should do so around their scheduled class times to the extent possible.  Instructors are not required to excuse tardiness or absences due to students’ lactation needs, except in cases where a class time or class activity exceeds two hours.  For students whose classes are distant from one of the lactation stations, academic units should try to locate a suitable lactation room within the academic unit.

4.2. Employees

Employees may request reasonable lactation breaks during work hours for breastfeeding for up to one year after a child’s birth (and longer with supervisory approval).  Supervisors and employees should work together to establish reasonable, flexible, and mutually agreeable times each day that do not unduly disrupt normal business activities, instruction, or clinical services.  

Employees who are nursing their children and who work in settings where infants are allowed may choose to have their infants brought to and from the workplace to be nursed during lactation breaks.  For employees who do not have private offices, or who work in areas where infants are not permitted or that are unsafe for infants, supervisors should make reasonable efforts to provide a private room for nursing.  Employees also may use UNM’s lactation rooms for nursing. 

4.2.1. Faculty and Graduate Student Assistants

Faculty planning to breastfeed during normal work hours should endeavor to do so around their scheduled class time and, when applicable, clinical time.  Chairs and deans are expected to work with faculty (including graduate student assistants) to arrange class schedules in order to allow for reasonable breastfeeding breaks.

5. Paid Break Time for Breastfeeding Employees

To support breastfeeding employees, UNM offers paid break time for reasonable lactation breaks.  

5.1. Reasonable Lactation Breaks

Employees may take lactation breaks during authorized work or lunch breaks already provided under other policies, requirements, or agreements.  However, if such breaks are inadequate or impractical, supervisors must provide separate or extended paid time for lactation breaks.

In the early months of life, a child may need as many as eight to twelve feedings per day, or food every two to three hours.  If the child does not take the milk directly from the nursing employee, the milk should be pumped about as frequently as the child usually nurses.  As the child grows and begins to consume solid foods, typically around six months of age, the frequency of feedings often decreases, and the need for breaks to express milk may also gradually diminish.

Some of the factors to consider in determining whether the time needed for a breastfeeding employee to express milk is “reasonable” include:

  • The time it takes to walk to and from the lactation room and the wait, if any, to use the space.
  • Whether the employee has to retrieve a pump and other supplies from another location.
  • Whether the employee will need to unpack and set up a pump or if a pump is provided in the space.
  • The efficiency of the pump used to express milk (employees using different pumps may require more or less time).
  • Whether there is a sink and running water nearby for the employee to use to wash hands before pumping and to clean the pump attachments when done expressing milk, or what additional steps will be needed to maintain the cleanliness of the pump attachments.
  • The time it takes for the employee to store milk in a refrigerator or personal cooler.

6. Lactation Rooms

The University’s Women’s Resource Center facilitates and oversees a number of lactation stations on Main Campus and at the Health Sciences Center, some of which are equipped with hospital-grade pumps. A list of lactation stations is available on the Women’s Resource Center website. Units can work with the Women’s Resource Center to establish additional lactation stations.

Branch campuses should provide an easily accessible means of identifying and accessing facilities that are suitable for use as lactation rooms.

When a designated lactation room is not available in a building, temporary “in-use” signage can be provided to breastfeeding students and employees for vacant rooms that meet the requirements of a lactation room, such as a private office or an infrequently used conference room.

7. Storage and Refrigeration of Breast Milk

Some of the lactation rooms have mini-refrigerators than can be used for the storage of breast milk.  Academic and administrative units are encouraged to provide space in existing refrigerators for the storage of breast milk.

8. Registration

To participate in the lactation support program overseen by the Women’s Resource Center, students and employees should fill out the Breastfeeding Support Program Registration Form and return it to the Center.  Registration is free for all UNM students, staff, and faculty (and their partners and spouses), and allows the Women's Resource Center to track the use of the program.

9. Compliance

It can be a violation of a person’s civil rights to deny the right to breastfeed.  Any concerns about compliance with or appropriate use of this policy should be referred to the Office of Equal Opportunity.

10. References

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), 29 USC § 207(r)(1)-(4)

NMSA 1978, § 28-20-2 (“Use of a breast pump in the workplace”)

NMSA 1978, § 28-20-1 (“Right to breastfeed”)