The Washington Business Journal reports on the workplace-pumping provisions of the new health care package, focusing on the business aspects. Check out these facts about why businesses should support lactating women in the workplace:
In 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services outlined the bottom-line business benefits of accommodating breast-feeding mothers. They include:
○ Breast-feeding employees miss work less often. Mothers of formula-fed infants take more than twice as many days off to care for sick children. Maternal milk boosts an infant’s immune system and helps protect the baby from common childhood illnesses and infections — a particularly high risk for children in day care. Health insurer Cigna Corp. conducted a two-year study of 343 employees who participated in their lactation support program. Among other things, the program saved $600,000 by reducing absenteeism rates.
○ Breast-feeding lowers health care costs. Cigna’s program resulted in annual savings of $240,000 in health care expenses and 62 percent fewer prescriptions. The reduced health care costs for breast-fed infants translate into lower medical insurance claims for businesses. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co. had a similar program and found that health care costs for its working mother employees who did not breast-feed were $2,146 higher per person.
○ Workplace lactation support programs can improve employee retention rates. One study of several companies with lactation support programs showed that 94.2 percent of working mothers returned to their employers after maternity leave when lactation support programs were in place. That compares to the national average retention rate of just 59 percent. Another study estimates that companies save $75,000 for each employee who returns to the workplace after childbirth.