MIT Lactation Support Guidelines for Nursing Mothers and Their Supervisors

In accordance with federal law, employers must provide reasonable break times and private space for nursing mothers.

For a period of one year after giving birth, upon request, a nursing mother shall be granted reasonable break time during the workday for the purpose of expressing milk. The nursing mother shall be provided with a private space that has been designated as a nursing mother’s room by MIT or the Department, Lab, Center, or Institute (DLCI).

Generally a woman who is lactating will need two to three breaks during the workday to express milk. Depending on variables including the location of the lactation space, a period of up to 30 minutes for each break is typically sufficient for expressing milk and commuting to and from the designated lactation space.

For hourly employees, break times taken for the purpose of expressing milk are unpaid. With the agreement of the DLCI, an employee may choose to use vacation or personal time, in accordance with the DLCI’s practices for such leave, for the break time. For pay purposes, the employee should calculate the total time spent away from the workplace that day for the purposes of expressing milk and enter those times on the time sheets as either Leave Without Pay (LWOP), Vacation or Personal, as appropriate. Leave time, whether paid or unpaid, must be in 15 minute increments.

Employees may speak with their supervisors to determine if the department can accommodate, without undue hardship, a temporary flexible work arrangement that allows the nursing mother to make up the unpaid break time by coming in early, staying late or reducing the meal break. See MIT's policy on job flexibility.

There are a number of private spaces reserved for lactation purposes throughout campus. Some of these spaces are equipped with a breast pump.  A department may also designate an available private office as a lactation space. The identified space needs to be private, free from intrusion by co-workers or the public and not be a bathroom. It is also helpful if the room has an electrical outlet, a chair, a table or counter for the breast pump and a sink, either in the room or nearby. The nursing mother may also need to have access to a refrigerator or she may want to bring in a small cooler and some cold packs for storing the expressed milk. It is recommended that there be an "In Use" sign available to post on the door and the method for signing up for and using the space should be clearly articulated to the employee.

It is important to note that the lactation space does not need to be in the employee's own DLCI. It may be in a nearby DLCI. Again, the process for reserving any lactation space should be clearly articulated.

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