Starting on September 1, a new Texas law will require all public employers in Texas – including school districts, public colleges, local governments, and state agencies – to provide basic accommodations to employees who pump breast milk at work.
“By ensuring that more mothers have the support they need to continue breastfeeding, the new law takes an important step forward for the health of Texas babies,” said Alice Bufkin, Early Opportunities Policy Associate at Texans Care for Children, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving state policies for children. “Research shows that breast milk provides significant health benefits to babies, including boosting their immunity, reducing the likelihood of diabetes and infections, and reducing the number of hospital readmissions for preterm babies.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for infants until approximately six months of age and continued breastfeeding through the first year or longer, as long as the mother and infant desire. However, many mothers have difficulty continuing to breastfeed when they go to work, particularly if they do not have a supportive employer. The new law, established by Representative Armando Walle’s House Bill 786, addresses that challenge by requiring public employers to provide breastfeeding employees with a private space and adequate breaks to express breast milk.
In addition to supporting maternal and infant health, the new law will also help employers. The accommodations will help recruit and retain a talented workforce. By improving children’s health, the law will reduce the number of days that employees have to stay home with sick children.
Private businesses are not covered by HB 786, but they are covered by federal law requiring all employers to provide breastfeeding accommodations to employees that are paid hourly. The federal law allows companies with less than 50 employees to apply for an exemption.
Numerous resources exist to help businesses find easy solutions to make their workplace more mother-friendly, including the resources provided here by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Women’s Health.
“Whether you’re a public school teacher, a city librarian, or a police officer, state law now requires your employer to provide support so you can continue breastfeeding your baby,” said Ms. Bufkin.
More at AAP.org