July 14, 2024 6:42 am

Local News

Arizona Lacking in Workplace Breastfeeding Protections


Anzhe Zhang   

While federal workplace lactation laws and the right for mothers to breastfeed their infants in public have incrementally improved over the years, many states, including Arizona, have yet to enact laws to help support workplace breastfeeding.

According to the most recent data from Kaiser Family Foundation, 85.4 percent of infants in Arizona were breastfed at some point, above the national average at 83.2 percent, placing the Grand Canyon State at 23rd place, overall.

Meanwhile, 58.3 percent of infants in the state were being breastfed at six months, while 40.4 percent were being breastfed at the 12 month mark. Both categories were noticeably higher than the national average, where 55.8 percent of infants were breastfed at six months, and 35.9 percent were being breastfed at 12 months.

Currently, Arizona doesn’t have any in-state protections for breastfeeding at the workplace, though the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which passed in 2010, offers some form of protections for hourly employees, such as break time and privacy. 

It’s important to note, however, that the break time doesn’t have to be paid, and small employers can opt to “waive” this right if they can prove that it incurs “hardship” towards their business, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Arizona passed its own anti-discrimation act against breastfeeding in public in 2013, though there’s been no legislation towards applying this to the workplace.

But at least in public, mothers in Arizona who are breastfeeding are not subject to indecent exposure laws, while the Arizona Department of Health Services offers a program called Infant At Work.

Being an issue that’s relatively new to the public conscious, non-legislative strategies towards supporting breastfeeding rights and making it more accessible for working mothers have ranged from installing lactation pods and creating apps designed for locating spaces to breastfeed.

While the powdered formula stock shortage has lessened, many families are still struggling to find baby formula powder. During the first week of October, it was reported that 18 percent of powdered formula was out of stock, compared to what is usually 10 percent around the same time. The powdered formula shortage peaked earlier this year at 31 percent.