Senate Bill 26 Authored by Senator Zaffirini and
House Bill 1898 Authored by Representative González
Twenty years ago Texas Health & Safety Code §165.005 established the Mother-Friendly Worksite designation, to recognize businesses which meet certain minimum criteria to support breastfeeding employees. SB 26 is intended to increase the number of state agencies providing support for mothers to breastfeed.
Problem: Breastfeeding mothers who return to work often are uncomfortable making their needs known in order to be able to continue breastfeeding by expressing milk for later use by their infants. Employers are therefore often unaware that needs are unmet.
Mother-Friendly Worksites Benefit Mothers and Worksites
Work can be a barrier to breastfeeding:
- Stops 40% from even initiating
- Most wean within first month
- 2% wean because of work
- Decreases duration by 2 months
- 58% don’t reach breastfeeding goals
- Only 10% exclusively bf for six months
Mothers supported to continue breastfeeding experience health benefits for themselves and their babies as they are better able to reach their breastfeeding goals.
SB 26 and HB 1898 will require state agencies, to the extent practicable, to become Mother-Friendly Worksites. As such, they would provide:
- work schedule flexibility to allow adequate time for the expression of breastmilk,
- access to a clean, safe water source and a sink to wash hands and clean pumping equipment,
- access to a private location that is not a bathroom, for the purpose of milk expression, and
- access to hygienic options for storage of expressed breastmilk.
By supporting lactation at work, businesses see:
- $3 return for every $1 invested
- Decreased absenteeism
- Reduced healthcare costs
- Reduced turnover
- Lower recruitment and training costs
- Boosted morale and productivity
Over 1800 worksites have been designated Mother-Friendly to date; only 12 of these are state agencies. Many businesses that follow FLSA guidelines to support hourly moms already meet Mother-Friendly requirements. But employees who fall under the “white collar” exemption and those in government are not guaranteed FLSA-required support.
Senate Bill 26 and House Bill 1898 will help more state agencies to reap the benefits of supporting mothers.
Research Supporting the Need for
Like business, breastfeeding works on supply and demand. When mothers are supported to meet both the needs of their babies for nutrition and the requirements of their jobs, they do not have to choose between them.
Since the establishment of the Texas Mother-Friendly Worksite Program in 1995, significant best-practice guidance has been produced to promote and inform worksite breastfeeding programs and policies, including defining levels of adequate, expanded, and comprehensive workplace breastfeeding support.
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The business case for breastfeeding: steps for creating a breastfeeding friendly worksite: bottom line benefits. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA.
United States Breastfeeding Committee. Breastfeeding in the workplace [issue paper]. (2002). Raleigh (NC): United States Breastfeeding Committee, 2008.
Shealy K, Li R, Benton-Davis S, et al. The CDC guide to breastfeeding interventions. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2005.
Slavit W, editor: Investing in workplace breastfeeding programs and policies: An employer’s toolkit. Washington (DC): Center for Prevention and Health Services, National Business Group on Health, 2009.
A national Healthy People 2020 objective to improve maternal and child health is to increase the number of employers with worksite lactation support programs.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Healthy People 2020. Maternal, Infant and Child Health Objectives, 2011.
One study of several companies with lactation programs showed a retention rate of 94.2% as compared to the national average of only 59%.
Ortiz, J, McGilligan K, & Kelly P: Duration of breast milk expression among working mothers enrolled in an employer-sponsored lactation program. Pediatric Nursing, 2004, 30(2):111-119.
A New Zealand study estimated $75,000 in savings for each employee who returns to work after maternity leave.
EEO Trust: New Zealand’s Best Employers in Work and Life, 2001. Auckland, NZ.
Employees whose companies provide breastfeeding support consistently report improved morale, better satisfaction with their jobs, and higher productivity.
Galtry J: Lactation and the labor market: breastfeeding, labor market changes, and public policy in the United States. Health Care Women Int. 1997; 18, 467-480.