Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spokane City Hall now offers moms who work there a room to breastfeed

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 12:22 PM

Women who return to work at Spokane City Hall after having a baby now have a private space to nurse their babies or pump milk.

City Councilmembers Candace Mumm and Karen Stratton worked to get the room with the Gender and Pay Equity Committee and city administration. 

“Our working culture doesn’t always make it easy on moms and babies and we want to support new and growing families,” Mumm says in a news release.

“A Mother’s Room provides a private space for mothers to breastfeed or breast-pump, which will make the transition back to work much easier. Supporting new moms returning to work is not only the right thing to do, but it can also help us attract and keep talented young women on our city workforce.”

More than 500 women work for the city of Spokane. Those who choose to have children typically get 6 to 12 weeks for maternity leave, depending on medical need, and up to 12 weeks of bonding time allowed for under the Family and Medical Leave Act, according to city spokesman Brian Coddington.

Whether they are paid during that time depends on how much paid sick and personal leave they have accrued, Coddington says. Shared leave, requested from other employees, can go toward the medical need time.

Once they're back at work, the new room will allow for privacy as up to two moms breastfeed or pump.

"Employers that provide breastfeeding support programs in the workplace consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs and higher productivity," the city's announcement says. "Other employer benefits include increased retention rates of working moms following the birth of a baby and recruitment of top-notch females in the workplace."

Do you want a breastfeeding break room in your workplace? If your employer has 50 or more employees, they're required to offer you a private place to breastfeed or pump that isn't a bathroom.

A change to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which took effect when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in 2010, "requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child's birth," and that they provide a private place to do so, according to the Department of Labor.

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About The Author

Samantha Wohlfeil

Samantha Wohlfeil covers the environment, rural communities and cultural issues for the Inlander. Since joining the paper in 2017, she's reported how the weeks after getting out of prison can be deadly, how some terminally ill Eastern Washington patients have struggled to access lethal medication, and other sensitive...