Breastfeeding Information for Employers
Supporting breastfeeding in the workplace
Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. work force. In 2013, more than half of mothers with infants under a year old participated in the work force. Women who return to work often find it challenging to meet their breastfeeding goals. Workplace support for breastfeeding is a critical piece of the national effort to extend the time mothers breastfeed and increase exclusive breastfeeding.
Why should my workplace support breastfeeding women?
Supporting breastfeeding mothers is not only the right thing to do, it helps businesses save money and retain employees. Supporting breastfeeding women in the workplace has bottom line benefits for employers. In fact, businesses that implement lactation support programs often see a return on investment of 3:1.
- Breastfeeding employees miss work less often
- Breastfeeding lowers health care costs
- Breastfeeding support in the workplace reduces turnover rates
- Workplace lactation support programs improve productivity and loyalty
- Breastfeeding support can generate positive public relations
Accommodating breastfeeding employees
Workplace support for breastfeeding women has four components, which can be summed with the acronym STEP:
- Support: From supervisors, colleagues and the employer
- Time: Leave after birth and flexible scheduling to accommodate lactation breaks during work time
- Education: For mothers, fathers and supervisors about the benefits of breastfeeding and the worksite policy
- Place: A private space to express milk
See the Business Case for Breastfeeding, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee’s report: Workplace Accommodations to Support and Protect Breastfeeding
Minnesota breastfeeding law
Minnesota state law requires that employers provide nursing mothers with reasonable unpaid break time to express milk and a private a room or other location for milk expression, other than a bathroom or toilet stall, with access to an electrical outlet and in close proximity to the worksite. With the passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act in May 2014, employers can be held accountable for damages that occur due to non-compliance with this law.
- See the precise language regarding workplace accommodation of nursing women in Minnesota.