Nursing Parent in the Workplace

Policy Approval Authority President
Responsible University Office Human Resource Services
Responsible Officer(s) Senior Associate Vice President
Contact Person John Acardo
Primary Audience Faculty
Status Active
Last Review Date 01-29-2020
Policy Category/Categories Human Resources / Employment

I. Purpose

In compliance with the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act, Public Act 92-0068 and Gov. Rauner’s HB 1598 amendment of said act, the university is committed to the adoption and implementation of this Nursing Parent in the Workplace Policy and Procedure, which will be enforced, effective immediately, for all employees.

II. Policy

Northern Illinois University recognizes the importance of breastfeeding and supports the accommodation of those who choose to continue breastfeeding, nursing or expressing milk after their return to work.

Covered Employee

A covered employee is a person currently employed or subject to recall after layoff or leave of absence with a right to return to a position with the university or a former employee who has terminated service within the preceding year.


Supervisor’s Responsibility

Upon receipt of request for accommodations for breastfeeding, the department or unit must take the necessary steps to ensure that accommodations are made. It is recommended that the department or unit discuss accommodations and schedule any necessary adaptations with the employee prior to the return to work after parental leave and/or FMLA-approved leave.

Employee’s Responsibility

Employees need to inform their supervisor as early as possible of their need for accommodations for breastfeeding.  It is recommended that 2 weeks' notice is given. This provides the department or unit time for necessary arrangements to be made.

End of Breastfeeding Accommodations/Schedule Adaptation

When accommodations and/or scheduling adaptation for breastfeeding are no longer needed, the employee must notify their supervisor.

Paid Breaks and Flexible Scheduling

A breastfeeding employee shall be allowed paid breaks and flexible scheduling to express breast milk. The time allotted may overlap with break time already established, but may extend beyond it, as needed to express milk. The employee is also entitled to a reasonable number of additional paid breaks to allow them to express milk.

Should a supervisor wish to deny requested additional breaks for expressing breast milk due to “undue hardship,” they are asked to contact an appropriate human resource manager to consult before a decision is made. Under the Illinois Human Rights Act (IHRA), “undue hardship” is defined as an “action that is prohibitively expensive or disruptive” when considering nature and cost, and the overall financial resources of the facility and employer.

Privacy/Accommodations/Designated Lactation Space

The department will make reasonable effort to provide a clean lockable private room (not a toilet stall or public restroom) or other location, in close proximity to the work area, where an employee can express milk in privacy.  The room should have a chair, electrical outlets for an electric breast pump, a small table, and, where possible, a sink with running water. If the department or unit is not able to provide a space, then an NIU-designated lactation space may be used.

Nursing Child

A breastfeeding employee may elect to nurse their child during the scheduled breaks in the designated area. The employee will make the necessary arrangement with their supervisor and child care provider. The employee and supervisor will work together to ensure that nursing needs and the undisrupted operations of the department are achieved.

Storing Breast Milk

Breastfeeding employees may provide their own containers and storage unit such as small ice chest or thermos from home, or they may elect to store expressed milk in their own containers in a common refrigerator or freezer. It is the employee’s responsibility to remove expressed milk at the end of each day.

IV. References

  • Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act, Illinois Public Act 92-0068
  • Rights to Breastfeed Act, Illinois Public Act 093-0942
  • Oregon Department of Public Health 


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