For the past 20 years, the share of female laborers in the U.S. has hovered around 47%. It’s a significant statistic for many reasons, particularly when you learn that the majority of working women (60% or higher) also have a child under the age of three years at home (per the most recent published data from the U.S. Department of Labor). In 2010, in response to the growing number of female employees within the workforce, the federal government amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to include accommodations for nonexempt, lactating mothers. Currently, all businesses with more than 50 nonexempt employees must provide a private space for mothers to pump breast milk. It cannot be a bathroom and must include a variety of features designed to support breastfeeding women. Many states extend this type of protection to exempt employees, as well, making mothers’ rooms a very common and often necessary feature in today’s office buildings. Check out the potential benefits of creating a workplace mother’s room:
Improved Employee Morale
Let’s face it: employees appreciate support. Under FLSA protection, lactating employees are able to return to work and still express breast milk for their babies. They don’t have to choose one over the other. For up to one year following the birth of a child, new mothers can expect time in a quiet, private space to pump while at the office. Not only do new moms feel valued, but coworkers become aware of the scope of their employer’s provisions, making it much more likely that the morale of all employees will be improved.
A dedicated mother’s room also helps to keep mother and baby healthy. Research shows that breastfed babies have stronger immune systems and, thus, are better protected against illness and disease. And if they do get sick, breastfed babies recover more quickly. Studies go on to indicate that breastfeeding mothers are less susceptible to certain physical and mental health issues, as well, reducing the need for new moms (as well as any parenting partners) to miss work due to their own illnesses or those of their babies.
Reduction of Healthcare Costs
The health benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby also helps reduce company healthcare costs. Breastfeeding mothers have a lower risk of certain cancers and a reduced incidence of high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, all of which can drive up the price that companies pay for insurance over the lifetime of all mothers. A mother’s room enables a mother to protect her own health and her child’s, thereby decreasing the need for each one’s healthcare services and the burden of their associated costs.
Better Employee Retention
In many instances, a mother’s room actually draws women back to work following maternity leave since they know they will be able to continue providing breast milk for their children in a private, comfortable space when away from their homes.
Finally, with improved morale, less absenteeism and more available workers, companies are more equipped to get the things that need to be done, done! Their workers are more engaged, energetic and focused and, therefore, more productive.
The Key Interiors Advantage
Providing a lactation or mother’s room is mandatory for many businesses. Even if it’s not, the benefits it offers to both lactating women and the companies that employ them make a mother’s room an important aspect of a commercial office’s design. Our team at Key Interiors can help your office create a mother’s room that is functional, stylish and affordable. Please contact us to learn more.