Breastfeeding at Work
The American Academy of Pediatrics and all major health organizations recognize the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and recommend babies receive only breast milk until 6 months of age. Most Utah mothers want to breastfeed. In fact, 90% of mothers begin breastfeeding their baby, however, by 6 months only 63% are still breastfeeding. With most mothers returning to work within the first few months after childbirth, worksite lactation support is essential to the health of mothers, infants, and families, as well as a good return on investment for employers. Laws, regarding workplace accommodations for breastfeeding mothers, are provided below, as well as resources for employers.
Affordable Care Act
Under the Affordable Care Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers requires employers to provide reasonable break time and accommodations for breastfeeding mothers to express their milk. Reasonable accommodations include a clean private space other than a bathroom for her to express her milk.
Utah law states that city and county governing bodies may not inhibit a woman's right to breastfeed in public and states that a breastfeeding woman is not in violation of any obscene or indecent exposure laws.
In 2015, the State and Local Government Employee Policies was passed. It reiterates language related to the federal law, adds a policy requiring support for breastfeeding, and requires that a refrigerator be provided for breastfeeding purposes. It also prohibits public employers from discriminating against an employee who is breastfeeding in the workplace. Utah Legislature 2012 joint resolution encourages employers to make accommodations to meet the breastfeeding needs of their employees. It also recognizes the benefits of breastfeeding and provides for unpaid break time and appropriate space for employees who need to breastfeed or express milk.
The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) provide a breakdown of the federal law requiring employers to provide break time and a place to express milk at work.
Breastfeedingpartners.org has an online resource that breaks down the Worksite Lactation Accommodation Law and provides business managers and employees with tools to comply with the law no matter the type or size of business.
The passing of the Affordable Care Act has allowed working mothers, who are nursing, to breastfeed or express breast milk during their work day. In order for this initiative to become successful, education, outreach and worksite policy are necessary. Providing resources for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace can directly impact the overall health and well-being of a community. Listed below are a number of resources that can assist with creating and strengthening worksite breastfeeding policy.
The State of Utah has a worksite lactation law, H.B. 242, enacted in 2015. This law requires public employers to:
- Provide reasonable breaks for a public employee who is breastfeeding.
- Provide a public employee access to a room with privacy and a refrigerator for breastfeeding purposes.
- Adopt policies to support breastfeeding.
- Prohibit a public employer from discriminating against an employee who is breastfeeding in the workplace.
S.B. 59, enacted in 2016, amended the Anti-discrimination and Workplace Accommodations statute to include:
- A public employer with a public employee not working in an office building may provide a nonelectric insulated container for storage of the public employee’s breastmilk as an alternative to a refrigerator; and
- An employer shall include written notice concerning an employee’s rights to reasonable breastfeeding accommodations in an employee handbook, or post in a conspicuous place.
Break Times for Nursing Mothers
- U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division provides a Fact Sheet on Break Time for Nursing Mothers under the FLSA to explain the requirements, time, location of breaks.
- U.S. Department of Labor provide resources regarding Break Time for Nursing Mothers, as well as a link to Break Time for Nursing Mothers Employee Rights Card. The U.S. Department of Labor also provide a great list of FAQs regarding break time for nursing mothers.
- Federal Register Notices, Vol. 75, No. 244, December 21, 2010: Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers: Request for Information from the public.
- The Office of Women’s Health factsheets provide solutions on how to support nursing moms in different areas of work.
Women who are employed are less likely to breastfeed when they return to work. For employers, it is important to encourage breastfeeding to improve employee morale and retention. Some benefits of breastfeeding to employers include:
- Reducing the risk of some short- and long-term health issues for women and children.
- Decreasing employee absences associated with caring for a sick child.
- Promoting an earlier return from maternity leave.
- Increasing retention of female employees.
Contact your employer and find out what breastfeeding policies and programs are in place in your workplace. If your workplace is currently not a breastfeeding-friendly environment, talk to your employer about how your workplace can accommodate you and your needs. Discuss the possibility of creating a breastfeeding policy for the future..