The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace
The nation's new Healthcare Reform states that employers shall provide breastfeeding employees with "reasonable break time" and a private, non-bathroom place to express breast milk during the workday, up until the child's first birthday.
-Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Health Care Reform)
With the inclusion of this provision in health care reform legislation, the U.S. joins the rest of the industrialized world in recognizing breastfeeding as the natural outcome of pregnancy, and workplace lactation programs as the natural outcome of a society where the majority of mothers and infants are separated due to work.
View section 4207 - Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers
For compliance issues contact:U. S. Department of Labor
Wage and Hour Division Office
Some of the Act's provisions include:
- All major medical organizations recommend that babies receive human milk exclusively during the first 6 months, with continued breastfeeding to one year and beyond to reduce illness and disease for both babies and mothers.
- Many women discontinue breastfeeding early because of concerns about maintaining lactation within the work environment. Other women delay returning to work, or do not return at all, because they feel employment prevents them from exercising this choice.
Many employers have discovered that accommodating employees who breastfeed is good business. ADHS notes the health benefits to mother and baby conveyed by breastfeeding translate into reduced costs to employers due to lower health care costs, decreased absenteeism, enhanced productivity, and improved employee satisfaction.
- Mothers do not have to choose between providing human milk for their baby and returning to work, and employers can retain valuable employees! A healthy mother means an employee who is able to contribute more productively to her workplace. A supportive environment makes the difference.
It is feasible for women to breastfeed in many work environments. Accommodating breastfeeding is not complicated, but as with other work-site issues, clarifying mutual expectations and understanding local policy will minimize concerns. The key needs are basic: time, a location in which to pump or express the breast milk, and employer-employee communication.