Human Resources Policies

HR20 Breastfeeding Support

Policy Status: 


Subject Matter Expert: 

Jill Musser, 814-865-1473,

Policy Steward: 

Vice President for Human Resources

POLICY'S INITIAL DATE: August 23, 2010




Penn State is committed to establishing and maintaining a healthful and safe environment for our faculty, staff, and students, in part by creating a culture which is supportive of wellness efforts across all life events. One life event for many women is pregnancy and childbirth. Breastfeeding lays a foundation for life-long health and wellness for both the mother and child, the benefits of which extend to Penn State with reduced absenteeism and reduced healthcare costs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has identified breastfeeding as a public health priority, especially for its potential to reduce rates of obesity, Type II diabetes, certain cancers, and infectious diseases. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their children for at least one year; while the World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two years. This policy provides support for faculty and staff who choose to continue breastfeeding after returning to work for up to two years following the birth of the child.

By implementing this policy, the University strives to create an exceptional environment conducive to working and learning and attuned to both professional and personal needs.


A lactating mother typically needs to breastfeed and/or express milk about every three to four hours. Generally fifteen to twenty minutes is needed for each expression. The distance a mother needs to travel to get to a private breastfeeding/pumping location also needs to be considered.

Breastfeeding mothers will be allowed a reasonable amount of break time to breastfeed and/or express milk during work hours which, if possible, shall run concurrently with normal break and meal periods. Time allowed in excess of the normal break and meal periods will be covered preferably by a flexible work arrangement. Breastfeeding mothers should work with their supervisors to establish mutually convenient times.

The mother may request a flexible work schedule that provides a longer lunch break to allow the mother time to travel to and breastfeed the child. Such arrangements are encouraged as long as the University's work needs can be efficiently and effectively met.

Some examples of these flexible accommodations might include:

  • Shorten a lunch break to account for a morning and an afternoon lactation break.
  • Arrive at work earlier than the regular starting time or leave later than the regular departure time to account for lactation breaks.
  • Complete a project at home to account for lactation breaks.


A woman may breastfeed her child in any place, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be present. If the mother desires a private space to breastfeed and/or express milk and does not work in a private office, then a private, secure, and sanitary area, other than a restroom, will be made available. The space will have an electrical outlet and will be in reasonable proximity to the work area. To the extent reasonably possible, the department will make sure that a refrigerator is available.

The Breastfeeding Support Program at Penn State sponsors several lactation stations on the University Park campus and several other Commonwealth Campuses (current list of lactation stations). These rooms are available to faculty, staff, and students. Additional lactation stations may be established by colleges, campuses, and administrative areas by contacting the Breastfeeding Support Program.


Mothers are responsible for requesting lactation support prior to or during maternity leave, preferably no later than four weeks before returning to work, by completing a Breastfeeding Support Accommodation Request form located at the end of this policy and submitting it to her supervisor and human resources representative.In addition, the mother must notify her supervisor when she discontinues breastfeeding or expressing milk.

Upon receiving the Breastfeeding Support Accommodation Request form, the supervisor and human resources representative will identify the appropriate space, ensure that the mother is aware of her right to a reasonable amount of break time and a private location to breastfeed and/or express milk, and discuss any flexible work arrangements that may be necessary. In addition, the supervisor will be responsible for creating an environment that is supportive to the breastfeeding mother.

While children are welcome on campus to breastfeed, it is expected that the child will not remain in the office, classroom, or other space not officially designated as a child care center after the breastfeeding break.

Questions, concerns, and requests for technical support should be referred to the Breastfeeding Support Program (814-867-0776),

Breastfeeding Accommodation Request Form 

Date Approved: 

May 27, 2015

Date Published: 

May 27, 2015

Effective Date: 

May 27, 2015