Washington Mutual's Internal Breastfeeding Policy

A source inside Washington Mutual has sent us the internal company policy on workplace lactation. They say that they found it amusing that the bank regulates employee’s breast-milk. Overall, the policy is mainly about how one needs to go to special lactation rooms to express one’s milk (for the unaware, that’s what it’s really called). Facility specialists are available if the lactation rooms aren’t up to snuff, and company consultants are on call if you have any questions about expressing your breast milk. Elsewhere, a business writer says that, “Workplace lactation programs are inexpensive way to reduce employee absenteeism, lower health insurance costs, and improve employee retention.” Overall, it’s actually a pretty good policy, but it’s interesting to see how they talk about breastfeeding in corp speak. Oh, by the way, if you express your milk at work and store it there, make sure to label it and take it home at the end of the day. Thanks.

Policy

Washington Mutual will make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure space to nursing mothers for the purpose of expressing breast milk. This guideline addresses how to locate suitable facilities and arrange for time off to express breast milk, and provides additional resources.

Requesting a Lactation Room

The Health Promotion Department is responsible for handling inquiries regarding lactation rooms or locating other spaces suitable for expressing milk. Employees and managers should contact the Health Promotion Specialist assigned to their region with such requests.

Existing Lactation Rooms

Designated lactation rooms exist at some corporate office sites. Existing lactation rooms should be used whenever reasonably possible. Employees should observe all posted guidelines such as signup sheets, hours of availability, and security guidelines. If the condition of a room requires maintenance attention, contact the Facilities Service Center at 888-745-8680.

Employees in work locations that do not have a designated lactation room should arrange with their managers to use a private office to express milk, provided the office has a locking door and a means to obscure view into the office (drapes, blinds, etc). If the office needs to be modified in any way to make it suitable, contact Corporate Property Services before proceeding.

If no lactation room or other suitable space is available, contact the regional Health Promotion Specialist for assistance.

Lactation Support

Employees have access to professional lactation consultants and additional support and education for breastfeeding through WaMu’s Work/Life Assistance Program. To access these services, contact Work/Life Assistance at 866-808-5004.

Time Off

Time needed for lactation purposes should be taken during regularly scheduled break periods. If that is not possible, Washington Mutual will attempt to provide employees with additional unpaid breaks (consistent with business needs) to permit time to express milk. Any such additional breaks must be approved in advance by the employee’s manager.

Equipment and Storage

WaMu provides enhanced lactation support through the Work/Life Assistance Program, including a subsidy on a hospital-grade personal breast pump for participants. Employees are responsible for providing and storing any equipment and accessories needed for breastfeeding including storage containers and a cooler, if a refrigerator is not available.

Any necessary equipment (breast pump, storage containers, etc) should be securely stored at the employee’s workstation or at another storage area designated by management. These personal items should not be stored in the Washington Mutual lactation room. Loss or damage to equipment is not the responsibility of Washington Mutual.

Storage of Expressed Milk

In some cases, a refrigerator may be provided in the lactation room. If a refrigerator is not provided, expressed milk should be stored in a personal cooler secured at the designated storage area. In either case, expressed milk should be stored in a spill-proof container labeled with the employee’s name. Expressed milk must be removed from Washington Mutual premises at the end of the employee’s work day.

Questions

If you have questions about this or any other HR Policy or Guideline, please contact the Employee Service Center online or at 866-4-WAMU-HR.

Feedback

If you have suggestions or feedback about our HR Policies and Guidelines, please submit your comments via HR Policy feedback.

Comments

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  1. bluesunburn says:

    That’s surprisingly good, as such policies go.

  2. RandoX says:

    Sounds reasonable to me. I thought it was going to be some sort of iron-fisted thou-shalt-not type of policy.

  3. TheBigLewinski says:

    I recall a situation where a woman returned to work from maturnity leave. She was expessing milk and storing it in the fridge when one of the other woman mistook it for coffee cream. Boy was she surprised… Actually, it is quite sweet and refreshing.

  4. snoop-blog says:

    wow they really care about boobies. or babies. one or the other.

  5. flamincheney says:

    I worked with GM Worldwide Facilities Group for several years, and we had similar policies in all buildings we oversaw. Usually it was a conference room that had black-out shades and other amenities to make it more comfortable.

  6. Michael Belisle says:

    I don’t know, seems more natural than milking a cow.

  7. youbastid says:

    I believe the informational pamphlet was titled “Express Yourself! WaMu’s Guide to Breastfeeding at the Bank”

  8. picardia says:

    This is pretty reasonable policy. Why is it being posted here?

  9. rubesmanubes says:

    Hahahaha. Expressing lactation? “Excuse me guys I have to go express my lactate”

  10. Juliekins says:

    @picardia: Maybe a kind of good news thing? Dunno. I think the policy is fantastic.

  11. mitten says:

    Did you put this in the ‘Leaks’ category on purpose? It’s apropos.

  12. GreatCaesarsGhost says:

    Seriously, why is this here Ben?

  13. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Nice policy. Back when I had kids we were expected to do it in a restroom. Ugh.

  14. KLondike5 says:

    I’ve done the nursing/working mother thing twice, at two different companies. This is pretty typical of a 9-5 office, big company policy. I don’t see anything unusual here, either pos or neg.

    I did think it was cute that you tagged it “leaks”, though.

    If the article was about leaking breastmilk at the office instead of just pumping it, you’d have an interesting item on workplace faux pas.

  15. CrazyLegsMeg says:

    in my office (also a bank) we call the lactation room “the dairy”

  16. jamesdenver says:

    Probably being posted at how almost absurdly detailed it is. (from a corporation)

    It’s just common sense and respectful to give women some space for that. If I can a company my policy would be “do your thing – make sure it’s labeled in the fridge”

    It shouldn’t be that hard to simply give some space.

    It’s micromanagement, I guess in a good way, to it’s finest.

    p.s. I’ve ridden subways in other countries where women breast feed right in front of everyone. No one cares.

  17. jamesdenver says:

    Also I’m diabetic and check my blood sugar/give myself shots at my desk several times a day.

    Again nobody cares – but I wonder if WaMu would give me a special “Diabetes Room”

  18. emilymarion333 says:

    We have a very similar policy where I work. I think this a very common.

  19. na2rboy says:

    We have a winner for most wtf post of the day. Why was this posted?

  20. Shadowman615 says:

    Sounds like a decent policy to me. Women who are breastfeeding need to pump on a schedule, and many would prefer a private location to do so, where they can plug in the pump, if necessary. Many offices don’t have such a location, and the bathroom sounds like it could be an awful place to pump.

    Unfortunately, breastfeeding is not covered by the ADA in the US, so companies are pretty much on their own to implement such a policy if they see fit. I say kudos to WaMu for taking the initiative here.

  21. ItchykooParker says:

    I would say this was posted because lots of us here are women, and this is a subject that may affect us at one time or another in our lives.

    This seems like a decent policy. I work in radio, (mostly with guys), and when I came in to have lunch with everybody after my son was born, I nursed him (discreetly) under a blanket while we were all around the table. I was not about to relegate myself to some bathroom somewhere! No one could see anything, but boy, were those guys uncomfortable! I knew them all well, and thought it was pretty amusing, to tell the truth.

    I’m sorry, but that’s what my tatas were made to do, it’s completely normal, and if they want to see boobies all over billboards and tv ads, they can deal with them being used for what they were meant for! Rant over.

  22. dgcaste says:

    @na2rboy: WaMu has gotten some bad press recently, I think this shows a contrast into the workings of the company. However, I am agreeing with you in that this is a consumer website and not geared towards employees.

  23. chiieddy says:

    It looks like a great policy. At least they’re not telling women to express milk in the bathroom. Seriously, do people consider when they tell people to go to the bathroom to breastfeed or lactate that you’re asking someone to eat in a bathroom. Disgusting.

  24. m4ximusprim3 says:

    What if i want my baby to drink cow milk. Can I bring a cow into the special room and express it?

  25. hornrimsylvia says:

    @JAMESDENVER
    When they throw you in jail (or give you a ticket or fine you) for exposing your the area where you inject insulin, that’s when you’ll get your special “diabetes room”.

    NIPPLE EQUALITY NOW!

  26. Brie says:

    @jamesdenver:
    >Probably being posted at how almost absurdly detailed it is. (from a corporation)

    Well, like someone at passive-aggressive-notes.com once said, HR spells out policies not because they want to be intrusive but because they’re tired of cleaning up after other people’s complaints.

    >It’s just common sense and respectful to give women some space for that.

    I wish. It’s common sense and respectful to do lots of things yet the county I live in actually has to conduct training in how not to be an asshole (case study: leaving notes that say “Retard” on the desk of the new guy who got a head injury in the war.)

  27. Darling says:

    I think it’s actually the law in a lot of places that companies have
    to make available a private room (that’s not a bathroom) for expressing
    breast milk. I’m too lazy to look it up though.

  28. Hugh Manatee says:

    After my first baby was born, I was still breastfeeding when I went back to work. A couple times a day, I would close and lock my office door, break out the pump and take care of business. One day I guess I forgot to lock the door. Someone knocked and I called out, “Just a minute …” She apparently thought I said, “Come in,” and walked into the office.

    There I stand with my top completely open and a pump on each breast. (If you’ve never seen a pump, it looks like some kind of S&M device!) Her eyes got really wide and she left as quickly as possible.

    That goes down as my most embarassing moment ever. I really could have used a WaMu lactation room.

  29. phloighd says:

    Are there also special rooms where men can go to express semen? Other than the bathroom.

  30. Charmander says:

    That’s a nice policy, which more companies should adopt. I worked at a company which had a similar one – including a lactation room with a breast pump and refrigerator.

    Why is this in the Consumerist, though?

  31. Charmander says:

    @phloighd: Just curious: what are you planning to do with your semen?

    Most women who express their milk are planning to feed their babies with it.

  32. bluebuilder says:

    To people who are laughing over their use of the term “express”: This is not corporate speak, but a standard description of the practice both in North America and the UK. It is widely used in medical and breast feeding promoting circles.

    Singling out WaMu among everybody who calls it expressing isn’t really necessary.

  33. jamesdenver says:

    @hornrimsylvia:

    Does my upper tush count? And I agree with you. But please tell me your not one of those moms who participates in “Milk-Ins”

    That does as much for equality and acceptance as hideous drag queen nuns at gay pride parades.

    live and let live…

  34. Monkey4Sale says:

    I think that breastfeeding is just as detrimental as child sexual molestation.

  35. scoosdad says:

    @jamesdenver: LOL, me too. Get a pump, you’ll wonder how you went so long without one. No issues with needing to do injections in public, I just pull mine out of my pocket and push a few buttons. Most people assume it’s some kind of pager unless they detect the tiny clear tube attached to it. And if your insurance covers it (mine not yet), you can get the continuous glucose monitor that goes with it and avoid the finger sticks too. Yay technology.

  36. Monkey4Sale says:

    Though I’m joking, a woman on ‘Bullshit’ was qutie serious in this sentiment.

  37. majortom1981 says:

    Go ahead and bash me but I feel it should either be done at your desk or someplace indiscrete. Where I work a woman did it and got breast milk all over the area she was at . when she got up she laughed at the mess she made and left. Did not even clean it up.

    PS This was in the middle of a library.

  38. ripple says:

    How about the Moms just stay home and nurse the babies there instead of neglecting them all day by working. Oh thats right nobody waits until they are financially stable enough before they have kids, or they have to have a bigger house than they need and a nicer car than they need.

  39. ripple says:

    .

  40. Tonguetied says:

    They call it the “Mom’s Room” at my job. No biggie, just a place where you can take care of business in private.

  41. Scudder says:

    @phloighd: Yeah, it’s called the oval office…ten years after the Lewinsky scandal…[jezebel.com]

  42. SacraBos says:

    @jamesdenver: Where exactly are you giving yourself shots?

  43. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @mitten & @KLondike5: Actually, all of the posts about internal company policies are tagged leaks.

  44. retailwhore says:

    @ripple: Sorry, on the Troll Scale that only rated 1 out of a possible 10.

  45. jamesdenver says:

    @sacrabos:

    Upper leg, thigh, upper butt. But I use an insulin pump now so not as many injections anymore…

  46. jamesdenver says:

    @scoosdad:

    Actually I started on the pump and CGM in November. You’re right. It’s FAR easier and more stable. Why did I wait so long? [www.futuregringo.com]

  47. no.no.notorious says:

    @youbastid: LOL

  48. KJones says:

    @TheBigLewinski:
    I recall a situation where a woman returned to work from maturnity leave. She was expessing milk and storing it in the fridge when one of the other woman mistook it for coffee cream. Boy was she surprised… Actually, it is quite sweet and refreshing.

    What kind of coffee was it? “Expresso”?

  49. timmus says:

    Awesome, WaMu. Breastfeeding rules. I actually credit much of my kid’s perfect health to it.

  50. Andy S. says:

    You’ve got to make her
    express her milk
    hey, hey, hey, hey.
    ‘Cause if you want it right now
    WaMu can show you how,
    Express what you’ve got
    Oh baby, ready or not.

    (half-hearted apologies to Madonna)

  51. KarmaChameleon says:

    @majortom1981: I think the word you’re looking for there is “discreet”.

  52. shadow735 says:

    SO yeah what is the point of this unless its to let people know WAMU cares about its preggy employees?

  53. songsabouttrains says:

    Lactation rooms should be standard for working/nursing moms, of whom there are many, but right now it’s a luxury. If this is becoming standard corporate policy, then bravo.

  54. harshmellow says:

    @shadow735: Actually, the ones with babies aren’t preggy anymore. :)

  55. ripple says:

    @retailwhore:

    So because I have a view that is the opposite of the majority of posters in this story that makes me a troll. I see how it is. If you believe in personal and family responsibility that makes you evil.

  56. Charmander says:

    Retailwhore: It may not make you a troll, but it sure defines you as someone completely out of touch with reality.

  57. Xerloq says:

    Anyway, it’s interesting.. Check out NASA’s Breastfeeding Policy. Most companies have one.

  58. SacraBos says:

    @jamesdenver: Okay, that makes sense. I was just trying to merge in my head the “need express room for pulling out breasts” with “need diabetic room for pulling out ______”?!? and it wasn’t going a pretty direction…

    There’s probably other medical/etc reasons why someone might need a little privacy to take care of a condition, and it would make sense for the “express room” to do multiple duty. If you have an office with a door, that’s probably good enough. If you’re in a cubicle farm, well… Agreed giving yourself a shot in a bathroom is likely no more appealing than for a mother “expressing” herself.

    What gets me is some of the looks women gaev my wife when she fed our kids in public (mind you, fully covered with blanket and such). Watching your wife feed your child was really a beautiful thing.

  59. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    @emilymarion333: Unfortunately, it’s not as common as you think. But hats off to WaMu for establishing a woman-friendly policy. I would consider being a WaMu customer for this.

  60. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Great policy! Good for them for being pro-active and pro-family.

  61. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @jamesdenver: Having known fellow teachers who had to try to express their milk in the cobwebbed corner of the very public teacher’s lounge/copy room during the 10 minutes we got for lunch, I’d say WaMu has gone above and beyond most companies.

  62. mikelotus says:

    @ripple: No you are a troll. you make statements “if you believe in personal or family responsibility” as if anyone that disagrees with you does not believe in that. You know, like from the guy you voted for president (assuming you did vote) “you are either with us or against us?” It would be like me saying that your parents did not take personal or family responsibility because the procreated with clearly inferior genes.