The American Academy of Pediatrics and all major health organizations recognize the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and recommend babies receive only breastmilk until 6 months of age. Most Utah mothers want to breastfeed. In fact, 90% 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. We have provided the laws regarding workplace accommodations for breastfeeding mothers and resources available for employers and employees.
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, 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 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 have 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 bill, 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 Antidiscrimination 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.
Policy Models and Toolkits
- Policy and procedures for Utah Department of Health employees regarding breastfeeding in the workplace.
- The United States Breastfeeding Committee has a list of policy and initiative resources.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have a breastfeeding guide with information on supporting breastfeeding in the workplace, definition, rationale and program examples.
- The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding provides information on the importance of breastfeeding, potential barriers to overcome, disparities to identify, environmental effects and federal policy. Here is a link to the executive summary.
- National Business Group on Health’s Investing in Workplace Breastfeeding Programs and Policies: An Employer’s Toolkit provides information for assessing, planning, promoting, implementing, and evaluating a worksite lactation support program.
- States’ Work for Breastfeeding Support California Steps have a toolkit to guide you in implementing breastfeeding friendly environments.
- The CDC Healthier Worksite Initiative has created a toolkit to help employers establish worksite lactation support programs.
- Breastfeedingpartners.org have an online resource Making It Work Toolkit for breastfeeding mothers returning to work or school, which is designed to assist breastfeeding mothers as well as provide tools and information for businesses and families.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources created a booklet that provides detailed steps for creating a breastfeeding friendly worksite.
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.
Examples of what other states are accomplishing
- Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition State Grant Program Provides Funding to Support Local Breastfeeding Projects.
- Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment Breastfeeding in the Workplace.
- New York Department of Health Breastfeeding Promotion Program.
- UC Davis Breastfeeding Support Program.
- Cincinnati Reds’ Stadium supporting breastfeeding mothers.
The United States Breastfeeding Committee website is a great website with information on protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding mothers.
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.
Creating workplace policies and programs for breastfeeding will help create a more breastfeeding-friendly environment and increase the number of women who choose to breastfeed at work. For more information about creating a policy for your workplace, visit:
- The Business Case for Breastfeeding: Steps for Creating a Breastfeeding Friendly Worksite
- U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Health and Human Services Administration
- US Breastfeeding Committee
- Supporting Nursing Moms at Work: Employer Solutions Partner Resources
- Timeline for Implementing a Lactation Support Program
North Carolina’s Eat Smart Move More Worksite Initiative has developed Business Leading the Way in Support of Breastfeeding, a planning, guidance, and resource toolkit for employers.
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.
- Latch ME has a guide for local breastfeeding resources in communities.