Breastfeeding and employment are compatible, important, and represent a win-win for everybody. Infants experience fewer illnesses, mothers use less sick days to care for their ill infant, and companies benefit from decreased employee turnover, fewer one day absences, and lower health care costs.

Breastfeeding employees enjoy some legal protections.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (“Affordable Care Act”) amended section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) to require employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employers are also required to provide a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk. The break time requirement became effective when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law on March 23, 2010. This is a federal law that applies only to non-exempt employees (those who are eligible for over-time pay/hourly workers). For more information, see:

US Department of Labor’s Information Page.

Fact Sheet: Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA

 

Employee Rights Card

https://www.dol.gov/whd/FLSAEmployeeCard/BreaktimeNursingMothers.pdf

 

Massachusetts has a state law regarding protection for breastfeeding employees. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (“the Act”) amends the current statute prohibiting discrimination in employment, G.L. c. 151B, §4, and is enforced by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).The Act, went into effect on April 1, 2018, and expressly prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child.  It also describes employers’ obligations to employees that are pregnant or lactating and the protections these employees are entitled to receive. For more information see:

MCAD Guidance on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/01/24/Guidance%20on%20Pregnant%20Workers%20Fairness%20Act%20%202018-01-23.pdf

 

MCAD Questions and Answers on Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

https://www.mass.gov/files/documents/2018/02/26/Pregnant%20Workers%20Fairness%20Act%20Questions%20and%20Answers%202018-02-26.pdf

 

The Business Case for Breastfeeding

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace. See https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work/business-case

 

 

More Information For employers

Why support nursing moms in your workplace? Because it’s worth it. With a few months of flexibility, your business reaps tremendous rewards:

  • Fewer sick days for moms:
    • Formula feeding moms have three times as many one-day absences from work to care for sick children in the first year of life than do breastfeeding moms. Cohen, Mrtek, and Mrtek (1995)
    • It is estimated that, for every 1000 formula feeding babies, their mothers would miss a total of one full year of employment in excess of breastfeeding mothers, because their children are sick so much more often, Ball and Wright (1999)
  • Return on your investment
    • Aetna found a $2.8 return for every $1 invested to support lactation
    • Sanvita, a worksite lactation support company, has found that companies have obtained $1.50 to $4.50 for each dollar invested.
  • Lower health care costs
    • Infants who receive only their mothers’ milk for the first three months of life incur $331 less in health care costs over the first year of life.
  • Lower staff turnover
    • Employers find that lactation support leads to improved staff productivity and loyalty, helping you retain talented employees.
  • Positive image of a family friendly employer

 

Making it happen – See the links below for implementing lactation support

 

Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program

http://texasmotherfriendly.org/

 

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health has a comprehensive program designed to educate employers about the value of supporting breastfeeding employees in the workplace. See https://www.womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-home-work-and-public/breastfeeding-and-going-back-work/business-case

 

Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policies: An Employer’s Toolkit. Washington, DC: Center for Prevention and Health Services, National Business Group on Health; 2009.

https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/pub/?id=f2ffe4f0-2354-d714-5136-79a21e9327ed

 

New York State Department of Health

Making it work for employers

http://www.breastfeedingpartners.org/images/pdf/ForEmployersFINAL.pdf

Support for breastfeeding in the workplace
Evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Businesses Leading the Way in Support of Breastfeeding from Eat Smart North Carolina https://www.eatsmartmovemorenc.com/Breastfeeding/Texts/ESMM_BreastfeedingGuide-lowink.pdf

Strategies to support breastfeeding mothers

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Support Breastfeeding Mothers and Babies

 

Supporting Nursing Moms at Work From the Office On Women’s Health

California Breastfeeding Program
Extensive resources, including sample policies, fliers, and frequently asked questions.

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