Breastfeeding and Work

Supporting breastfeeding mothers is good for employees and benefits businesses
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Originally posted on October 27, 2016


Philadelphia has long been known as the city of brotherly love. Now, thanks to the collaborative efforts of hospitals, community organizations and lawmakers, it’s becoming the city of motherly love. And the rest of the state is catching on.

In Philadelphia, working moms have the right to pump breastmilk in a private location (not a bathroom) while at work. Employers are not required to pay employees for time spent pumping, but they must provide unpaid break time or allow employees to use paid break time or meal time to express milk.

Pennsylvania House Bill No. 1100 would expand this policy to the entire state. If passed, working moms across Pennsylvania would be able to reach their breastfeeding goals without sacrificing their careers.

When businesses allow breastfeeding employees the support necessary to pump breastmilk in the workplace, everyone benefits. Productivity, satisfaction, and employee retention increases. Parenting employees (not just those who are breastfeeding) use less sick time, and healthcare and insurance costs for businesses decrease.

Laws relating to breastfeeding in the workplace are not new. Twenty-seven states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico already have such laws in place.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects milk expression in the workplace, but the provision only applies to hourly-paid workers and only provides protection for one year after giving birth. The proposed HB 1100 would supersede the FLSA provision on breastfeeding by providing greater protections for employees in Pennsylvania.

Breastfeeding at work is gaining global attention as the theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week, happening from August 1-7. This annual event promotes the importance of breastfeeding at the global, national, and community level and is celebrated by more than 1.3 million people in 170 countries around the world. Endorsed by UNICEF and the World Health Organization, this event is the perfect way to begin the campaign in support of Pennsylvania’s HB 1100.

To kick off World Breastfeeding Week here in Philadelphia, Maternity Care Coalition is hosting the Big Latch On at Franklin Square Park on Saturday, August 1. Everyone is welcome to attend this free celebration. Breastfeeding moms and families should make sure to arrive by 10am to help break the worldwide record for the most children breastfeeding simultaneously, the most breastfeeding women gathering in public and the most people supporting breastfeeding families.

Pennsylvania is long overdue in providing moms the basic support they need to sustain breastfeeding when returning to work. Let’s be a state that makes this simple accommodation for every mom.