Workplace Lactation Accommodation/Paid Family Leave
Why we promote Workplace Lactation Accommodation?
Conditions in the workplace have a substantial effect on breastfeeding duration. According to the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding a large proportion (70%) of working mothers with children under three years of age work full time. Approximately one-third of these mothers return to work within three months and approximately two-thirds within six months after the baby is born. Given these statistics, it is important to ensure that the work environment permits mothers to continue breastfeeding, as long as mother and baby desire. However, current breastfeeding rates indicate that the lack of support in the workplace is a significant barrier to breastfeeding for many working mothers, especially in low-wage workplaces. A Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace provides support for employees (or their partners) who want to provide breastmilk for their babies while they are at work.
In a competitive business environment, being a Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace brings direct benefits to employers for the following reasons:
- Financial value: 3 to 1 return on investment, largely from health care cost savings; In California, more than 89% of mother’s breastfeed their babies at hospital discharge. By supporting a mother’s decision to give her baby breastmilk, employers can reduce health care costs, decrease absenteeism and increase employer morale
- Human resources benefits: Employee satisfaction, Less absenteeism, lower turnover, improved recruitment and retention;
- Breastfeeding reduces the number of sick days that families must use to care for sick children. In a study of two Southern California corporations, breastfeeding employees had half as many absences due to infant illness as did formula-feeding employees.
- Breastfeeding reduces employee health care costs. Aetna estimates savings of $1435 on medical claims per breastfed baby per year. CIGNA has reported annual savings of $240,000 per year in health care costs and $60,000 per year through reduced absenteeism.
- Positive public relations and marketing: breastfeeding is good for women, children, families, and public health
- It’s the Law! California is one of the first states to enact legislation requiring employers to provide break time and space to express breast milk during the workday. In the past, mothers desiring to pump milk at work may have resorted to pumping in bathrooms.
- As part of health care reform legislation, federal law now requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with a “reasonable break time” and a private, non-bathroom place to express breastmilk during the workday, up until the child’s first birthday. This law does not preempt California’s stricter law.
Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace Award
Each year in May, the California Breastfeeding Coalition recognizes businesses for their exemplary efforts to support lactating employees by creating breastfeeding policies, ensuring all staff are aware of their polices and talking with expectant mothers about accommodating their breastfeeding needs when they return to work. These criteria ensure compliance with existing California and Federal laws requiring employers to provide time and space for employees who want to express their milk. Download the nomination form here. Read about the 2016 awardees here.
Resources for Supporting Moms at Work
Brief and Infographic
The California Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Program released an infographic on Workplace Breastfeeding Support in California revealing that not all working mothers in California have workplace support for breastfeeding , according to 2011 MIHA data.
The Center for Law and Social Policy and BreastfeedLA have released an updated brief and new infographic on breastfeeding, paid leave, and lactation accommodations to showcase the latest research. The resources highlight the impact of paid family leave policies and workplace accommodations on breastfeeding duration.
The HHS Office on Women’s Health Online Resource
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health, has launched an online searchable resource to support employers of nursing women at work. The resource, Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions, can be searched by either “industry” sector or “solution” type, and features solutions for more than 200 businesses in 29 states, representing all major industry sectors. The site also includes videos and hundreds of photos.
An additional resource developed by Every Mother, Inc. and Aspire Communications assists breastfeeding coalitions and educators with advocacy and outreach to employers.
This platform complements the OWH website and is based on the original HRSA Maternal and Child Health Bureau curriculum: Implementing The Business Case for Breastfeeding in Your Community. It includes current information and resources for worksite lactation support, as well as photos and videos from the OWH resource. The new comprehensive curriculum is a highly visual presentation platform with a sophisticated network of hyperlinks. This system provides flexible navigation that enables presenter access to whatever content may be needed in any given teaching situation. We strongly recommend viewing the recorded training webcast to learn more about using the curriculum in your community. Download the presentation platform here.