By Michelle Draxten, Public Health Nutritionist, Fargo Cass Public Health
In 2010, an amendment was made to the Fair Labor Standards Act requiring employers to support their breastfeeding employees. The amendment mandates that employers provide reasonable break time for milk expression and provide a place, other than a restroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion, which can be used by mothers to express breast milk.1
The benefits of breastfeeding for baby and mother are well-known.2 We are learning more and more that businesses also experience benefits when they support their breastfeeding employees.
Fargo Cass Public Health recently embarked on a local initiative to educate employers on the business benefits of supporting breastfeeding employees, as well as to encourage and support employers in developing and implementing their own worksite lactation support program.
Employers who support their breastfeeding employees benefit in the following ways:
- Reduced employee absenteeism: Breastfed babies tend to be healthier babies and therefore parents are able to be at work instead of at home with a sick child
- Lower health care costs: Breastfed babies visit the doctor less often and require less prescriptions
- Lower turnover rates: Employees are more likely to return to work after the birth of their baby if they have a supportive work environment
- Higher productivity and loyalty: Supported employees feel respected by their employer
- Positive public relations and enhanced recruitment incentive in the community: Supporting breastfeeding employees improves a company’s image and ability to hire and retain the highest quality employees
Employers who are interested in supporting their breastfeeding employees can easily do so. Think of it as taking a STEP.
S – support. Support for breastfeeding employees needs to come from staff at all levels (e.g., management, supervisors, colleagues, etc.)
T – time. Employers should allow a flexible work schedule for moms to express breastmilk at work
E – education. Education for all staff on the business policy around breastfeeding is essential for effective policy implementation, as well as education/information for the expecting mom on how to appropriately combine work and breastfeeding
P – private space. Employees need a private, intrusion free space that is not a restroom to express breastmilk
To assure that your business is effectively and appropriately supporting breastfeeding employees, and reaping all of the above mentioned benefits, it is essential to have a breastfeeding policy in place. A business breastfeeding policy is essential for a variety of reasons.
- Having a breastfeeding policy is best practice
- Policies are a solidified way to effectively implement change
- A breastfeeding policy will assure that mothers will continue to receive support in achieving their breastfeeding goals regardless of leadership
Businesses who support their breastfeeding employees should strongly consider becoming an Infant Friendly Designated Worksite. The designation is a way for North Dakota to recognize businesses who truly support their employees and work-life balance.
Why apply for the Infant Friendly Worksite Designation?
- The application is online and free
- Being designated reflects a business’s commitment to supporting breastfeeding employees and their families
- The designation creates a positive public relations image within the community
- Designated businesses can use “Infant Friendly” on any promotional or recruitment materials
- Assures effective implementation of breastfeeding policies
- Free business recognition by the state of North Dakota
Join these local businesses being recognized as Infant Friendly:
Gate City Bank
North Dakota State University
City of Fargo
West Acres Mall
Tronsgard and Sullivan Dental
Elim Care Center
ManorCare Health Services
Town & Country Credit Union
Fargo Jet Center
Weather Modification Inc
Lillestol Research LLC
Eide Bailly LLP
Fargo Cass Public Health is dedicated to encouraging and assisting businesses in their efforts to support their breastfeeding employees, and is a free resource for businesses. If you have any questions about how to become an Infant Friendly designated worksite, are interested in resources or employee education, or would like sample breastfeeding policies, please contact:
Public Health Nutritionist at Fargo Cass Public Health
- United States Department of Labor. Wage and Hour Division. Section 7(r) of the Fair Labor Standards Act – Break Time for Nursing Mothers Provision. https://www.dol.gov/whd/nursingmothers/Sec7rFLSA_btnm.htm Accessed September 22, 2016.
- Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Breastfeeding: Why breastfeeding is important. http://womenshealth.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-benefits.html Accessed September 22, 2016.
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