For Supervisors & Employees

For Supervisors & Employees

Open communication is critical to establishing arrangements that both accommodate work routines and create a supportive environment for nursing mothers. This section offers guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the supervisor and the employee, plus tips to help employees and supervisors work comfortably together to develop mutually beneficial arrangements.

See also:

Tips for Supervisor/Employee Discussions

Tips for supervisors:

  • Familiarize yourself with the MIT Guidelines for Nursing Mothers and Their Supervisors and resources to help anticipate questions and propose solutions; make sure the employee is aware of these as well.
  • Explore all options for accommodating lactation breaks, including the use of a flexible schedule. Consult the Guide to Job Flexibility at MIT for information about flexible work options.
  • Invite the employee to detail her needs, including thoughts about lactation rooms, frequency and length of lactation breaks, and interest in using flexible work hours or vacation or personal time for the break time. For help addressing any special circumstances, contact your Human Resources Officer.
  • Work with the employee to identify a private space for pumping. To ensure that appropriate lactation space is made available to the employee, consider the following:
    • MIT has a number of specially designated lactation rooms for nursing mothers; check the list to see if one is convenient and accessible.
    • A "lactation room" can also be created in any area that is shielded from view and free from intrusion. See Lactation Room Requirements.
  • Keep in mind that not all women feel comfortable discussing their breastfeeding choices and be sensitive to their privacy.
  • Educating other employees about special arrangements that are made for nursing mothers can help avoid misunderstandings and help to create a supportive work environment.
  • Contact the MIT Work-Life Center, or your Human Resources Officer or departmental human resources administrator, if you have questions or are unsure how to proceed.

Tips for employees:

  • Let your supervisor know you plan to breastfeed as soon as it is practical to do so, and at least two weeks before returning from maternity leave.
  • Familiarize yourself with the MIT Guidelines for Nursing Mothers and Their Supervisors and resources to help anticipate questions and propose solutions.
  • Be prepared to share some information on the benefits of pumping for mothers, babies, and employers; you may also want to explain that accommodations can generally be achieved without hardship, using existing resources.
  • Estimate and communicate how much time you expect it will take to pump and what the schedule is likely to be. (You can make a reasonably accurate estimate based on your physical needs and the distance of the lactation space from your place of work. Note that pumping typically requires two or three breaks during a work day, with each break lasting 15-30 minutes, depending on need and distance.)
  • If you have a medical condition that requires special accommodation, contact your Human Resources Officer or Disabilities Services.
  • If you would like to request flexibility to make up unpaid break time (for example by staying late or taking a shorter lunch break) — outline your proposal in writing and discuss it with your supervisor. Consult the Guide to Job Flexibility at MIT for help with your proposal, and be sure to identify the benefits and address any challenges you can anticipate.
  • If you would like to propose using vacation or personal time to cover the break time, discuss this with your supervisor. Note that leave time, whether paid or unpaid, must be reported in 15 minute increments.
  • Contact the MIT Work-Life Center, or your Human Resources Officer or departmental human resources administrator, if you have questions or are unsure how to proceed.