Goldman Sachs is going to start paying for breastfeeding employees to ship their breast milk home while they’re travelling for work.
For breastfeeding women who sign up to the program, the company will send a breast milk freezing kit to their hotels ahead of their arrival. Once a woman has pumped her breast milk, the company pays to ship it back to her baby.
They’re far from the first company to do it. IBM, Accenture, and Twitter have had a similar policy since 2015. The law firm Latham & Watkins started shipping breast milk for employees in 2016. Ernst & Young was way ahead of the crowd: they first started shipping breast milk in 2007.
Still, Goldman Sachs is notable as it’s thought to be the first firm in the U.K. to offer such a service. The new policy, announced in an internal memo, is the latest in a string of attempts to retain workers at a company once reputed to give four hours off for bereavement and two weeks off for maternity leave, and to tell employees that weekends ended Sunday morning. One female worker at Goldman told the Evening Standard that Goldman “really is good to women now,” and that most women take six to nine months of maternity leave. The article didn’t specify whether that woman worked in the U.S. or the U.K., though as the newspaper is British it is more likely the latter.
But critics of the policy say it’s a cynical attempt to get women back in the office and working as soon as possible after they give birth.
One reason Goldman may be the first to offer this service in the U.K. is that mothers’ rights are pretty well protected by law there. The country offers statutory maternity pay for up to nearly 10 months, whereas the U.S. is the only industrialized country that doesn’t guarantee paid time off for new parents. That puts the onus on private companies to help new mothers breastfeed for the American Academy of Pediatrics-recommended first six months of life—or not help, as the case may be.