The business case for breastfeeding
Monday, November 21, 2011
A previous version of this post was incorrect, all employers are required to provide a private lactation space.
Visit Clark County Public Health's website for a list of breastfeeding-friendly employers in Clark County.
Nursing moms often experience barriers to breastfeeding when they return to work. Because breastfeeding promotes health for mothers and babies, Clark County Public Health is helping community businesses create supportive environments for breastfeeding employees.
Public Health staff are also helping local employers develop work site policies that comply with new federal laws. The Fair Labor Standards Act now requires employers to provide nursing employees with reasonable break time and a sanitary, private space that is not a bathroom, to pump milk at work for one year after childbirth. Employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to this requirement if it imposes an undue hardship. More information about these federal standards can be found at www.usbreastfeeding.org.
The business case for these policies is strong. Research suggests that employers who provide a supportive environment to help women continue breastfeeding after childbirth enjoy many benefits including:
- Lower absenteeism
- Lower health care costs
- Better retention of employees
- Higher productivity
- Higher company loyalty
- Positive reputation in the community as a family-friendly business
If you’d like help creating a breastfeeding policy in your workplace, contact Elspeth Durek at (360) 397-8000 ext. 7291 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Four common policy components that make a big difference to breastfeeding women include:
- Private place to express milk at work.
- Flexible schedule to express milk two or three times a day (usually during allotted breaks).
- Information on how to successfully integrate breastfeeding with employment.
- Supportive supervisors and staff.
Elspeth Durek, RD, CD, is a Nutritionist at Clark County Public Health, where she coordinates breastfeeding education and outreach to businesses.