- In an effort to accommodate nursing mothers, Walmart has installed Mamava pods in three of its U.S. stores for customer and employee use, the retailer has reported on its website. It has installed pods in six of its U.S. distribution centers, as well. The stores with the pods are in Williston, Vermont; Gilbert, Arizona; and Bentonville, Arkansas.
- Mamava pods are freestanding rooms aimed at providing private and comfortable places for nursing mothers to express breast milk. Using a smartphone app, a nursing mother can find the nearest pod, determine whether the unit is in use and unlock it, the Walmart.com story noted.
- The nationwide retailer said it installed the pods at the suggestion of one of its employees who saw a Mamava pod at an airport.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that covered employers provide non-exempt employees a private space that is not a bathroom for the purpose of pumping breast milk and reasonable break time to do so for one year after a child's birth, unless doing so creates an undue hardship for the business. Employers do not have to pay nursing mothers for these breaks, but if an employee uses her paid breaks to pump, the employer must still compensate that time. State law can be a factor in employers' procedures and policies around pumping requirements; Several states have additional requirements and protections.
Experts have suggested that employers go beyond the FLSA's requirements and provide a space with a comfortable chair, a locking door, an outlet and a table. They also suggest that the space be made available only to nursing mothers so that it isn't taken over by employees needing to make phone calls or looking for a private space for a quick break. For employers without a room to spare, they may look into purchasing pre-made free-standing spaces such as the ones offered by Mamava.
In addition to the right amenities, an open, supportive environment is important to supporting new mothers. Employers can draft and communicate a lactation policy and train managers about lactation accommodations.
Apart from federal and state law requirements, there is a business case for employers to undertake lactation accommodations. Millennial moms believe they should be able to pump in the workplace. Forty-seven percent of new millennial moms said they had considered a job or career change because of concerns over pumping at work.