There are many breastfeeding advantages for employers interested in adopting a breastfeeding programs in the workplace.
Breastfed babies are the healthiest babies and healthy babies are good for business. Why? For one, if you are self-insured, healthier babies mean fewer medical expenses. Breastfeeding in the workplace also increases productivity, staff retention and decreases employee absence rates!
Both the mothers and their employers benefit from lactation programs in the workplace.
Why are Breastfeeding Programs Good for Business?
Here are just a sample of the reasons why:
• Reduced absences for working breastfeeding mothers because their babies are more less likely to get sick.• Reduced staff turnover and loss of skilled workers after the birth of a child.
• Lower overall health care costs.
• Higher employee satisfaction, morale and productivity.
• Major recruitment incentive for new employees.
• Companies that have adopted breastfeeding support programs have noted cost savings of $3 per $1 invested in breastfeeding support!
• Reputation as a company concerned for the welfare of working mothers and children.
Attention Employers: Pro-Breastfeeding Policies are Good Business
Maternity leave. Breastfeeding. Babysitter no-shows, doctor’s appointments and school snow days. These were once all reasons that women weren’t respected or treated equally in the workplace, but times have drastically changed.
Fathers are becoming more active in the lives of their children, and the roles of men and women in the home and office are blending. In many homes today, you can find men cooking dinner while women serve as the main bread winners, and women are one of the fastest growing segments of the workforce. More women than ever are seeking higher education and are putting their careers ahead of family life. It only makes sense for employers to do everything possible to earn the loyalty of these emerging female talents.
This has changed the way business owners think of family values and issues like breastfeeding. It’s a fact that many women return to work while still breastfeeding, and the days of forcing them to pump in a bathroom stall in shame are over.
Businesses of all sizes are implementing supportive breastfeeding policies, and there are some compelling reasons for your company to follow suit:
1. Breastfed babies are healthier babies, and healthy babies require fewer doctor’s appointments. We now know that breastfeeding reduces the rate of ear and respiratory infections in children, which means that parents spend less time caring for sick children and taking them to the doctor. Breastfed babies are also well protected against everything from dermatitis and obesity to diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders, and those protections could reduce the number of missed workdays and early departures experienced in the workplace. Many employers are finding that breastfeeding encouragement reduces absenteeism over time.
2. Breastfed babies require fewer doctor visits, spend less time in the hospital and need fewer prescription medications. This means that they’re cheaper to care for medically, which has an impact on the cost of healthcare. If you provide health insurance for your employees, reducing health expenditures is a great reason to invest in breastfeeding.
3. Your employees will have more respect for your company, and they will feel more loyal. You’re less likely to lose female employees to your competitors who may offer more support for working mothers. The more supportive your work environment, the easier it should become to retain your best female talent. While this isn’t the only consideration that women take into account when deciding where to work, it is an issue of extreme importance that could work in your favor.
4. Many women will return from maternity leave earlier if they have the proper support to continue breastfeeding. Most women want to return as soon as possible, but they also want to breastfeed as long as possible to maximize health benefits for their babies. When you make it easy for your female employees to care for their babies while returning to work, you may find that they come back sooner than expected.
5. Breastfeeding support is great for public relations. It’s just one more way to improve the image of your company and show support for your local community. If most of your local competitors haven’t implemented breastfeeding or family support programs, you could stand out for being the first to do so. If you wait too long, you will be one of the last to jump on what is an inevitable requirement for all businesses.
What Is Required by Law?
The Affordable Care Act did a lot more than overhaul the health insurance market. It also adjusted the Fair Labor Standards Act to require most employers to provide the following for working mothers who breastfeed:
- Break times for breast pumping that are reasonable and available as often as a woman needs. These breaks must remain available for at least the first year of a baby’s life.
- A private space where breastfeeding mothers can go on their pump breaks. This space must be private and free from intrusions, and it cannot be a bathroom.
If your company is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act and you aren’t exempt from section 7, you’re legally required to provide at least those two accommodations for all breastfeeding mothers. If you aren’t aware of any breastfeeding employees right now, it’s best to set up a breastfeeding space so that new mothers don’t have to ask for these accommodations when needed.
You should also check with your state to see if there are additional legal requirements for your business. These laws can get quite complicated and vary between states, and it’s your responsibility to keep up with changes to all laws applicable to your business.
What Should Your Breastfeeding Policy Include?
If you do nothing else, implement the two legal requirements listed above. Giving women the right to take breast pumping breaks as needed and providing a safe, private place for them to do so is often enough to encourage many women to continue breastfeeding once they return to work. If you aren’t sure how to equip the breast pumping room or want to know what else you can do to support breastfeeding employees, keep reading.
A 2013 survey given to more than 700 working mothers in Southern Taiwan found that the following factors made a significant difference in the number of women who chose to breastfeed for at least six months after returning to work:
Those are the basic actions that all businesses should take to support breastfeeding and enjoy the benefits that we’ve already discussed here. If you want a little more direction to maximize your breastfeeding support, take these research-backed suggestions from the United States Breastfeeding Committee. They’re all supported by the CDC.
* Make sure that the breastfeeding space provided is centrally located. This ensures that all women can access the room easily without adding travel time to breaks.
* Invest in proper adequate lighting and comfortable seating for the pump break room. Proper ventilation is important as well.
* Breastfeeding rooms should have at least one wall outlet and a sink. Pumps are sometimes electric powered, and sinks are needed to rinse out breast pump pieces between pump sessions.
* Consider investing in a refrigerator for the pump room, even if it is a mini fridge. This will make it easier for women to store breastmilk while at work. There are ways for women to keep milk cold if without this, but it’s a convenience that will make breastfeeding a work a bit easier for many women.
Consider Culture & Policies
Ideally, your breastfeeding employees should feel comfortable reporting discrimination or causes for discomfort in the workplace. If you instill a culture that takes these complaints seriously, you’re more likely to get managers and colleagues on board with your support for breastfeeding. When women feel supported and encouraged, they’re more likely to breastfeed longer. That results in healthier babies, lower rates of absenteeism and greater job satisfaction.
That sounds BEST for everyone!
* Learn the advantages of breastfeeding for babies.
* The WHO Breastfeeding Page also gives the World Health organization’s policies and information on the benefits of breastfeeding.