Legislation requires employers to accommodate breastfeeding
August 4, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY ” A state law requiring employers to accommodate breast-feeding mothers takes effect Thursday.
The Workplace Accommodations for Working Mothers Act, sponsored by Sen. Dan Gibbs, D-Summit County, requires that employers provide reasonable time and private space for mothers to breast-feed their babies. It also requires the employers not to discriminate against them.
“We have such a high percentage of working mothers,” Gibbs said of Summit County. “This is a bill that really, I think, improves the health of Colorado children.”
Gibbs also said the legislation will create better working environments and less stress for mothers at home.
Elyse Jones, a community coordinator with Summit Prevention Alliance, said the organization is offering grants of as much as $500 for local employers to help make their offices more conducive to breast-feeding.
The grants will help businesses with efforts such as establishing lactation rooms or providing refrigeration for the milk.
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“It’s really important to support mothers when they go back to work,” Jones said.
The legislation also requires that the mothers be allowed privacy and that they be provided a place near the work area; toilet stalls are unacceptable.
“Ideally (it would be) a completely separate room,” Jones said.
Breast-feeding mothers need to produce milk regularly, she said, because their bodies could stop making it. About 15 minutes during morning, lunch and afternoon times is likely sufficient.
“As (babies) grow, they typically need fewer sessions,” Jones said. “It is recommended mothers feed up to a year.”
The Colorado Breastfeeding Coalition offers advice to businesses on its website. Supporting breast-feeding employees improves productivity and morale, and reduces health costs, according to the site.
It also offers steps employers can take to ensure compliance. For more information visit http://www.cobfc.org.
The state legislation takes effect during World Breastfeeding Week ” a series of events recognized in more than 120 countries.
Jones said the week is intended as a campaign to promote awareness of breast-feeding’s health benefits.
Groups or individuals who organize mass breast-feeding events this week can win awards and recognition, depending how many mother-baby pairs participate. For more information visit worldbreastfeedingweek.org.
Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or firstname.lastname@example.org.