Chair Keith-Agaran, Vice-Chair Rhoads, Members of the Committee:
I am testifying for the League of Women Voters of Hawaii. Thank you for hearing HB 2228.
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports HB 2228, which would require employers to provide a clean and private location for new mothers to express breast milk and to post signs informing employees of their right to breastfeed in the workplace.
New mothers are faced with difficult choices when returning to the workplace, including the ability to continue breastfeeding.This is a very important issue for young women and we want to support them as they build new families.
The health benefits of breast milk for both infants and mothers have long been established. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, breastfeeding can help improve an infant’s immune system, protecting her from germs and illness. It may also prevent illnesses such as ear infections, stomach viruses, asthma, obesity, types 1 and 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, and some respiratory infections.
Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding, as it lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and reduces post partum depression. These Health benefits cannot be overlooked
Federal law requires that employers with more than 50 employees provide reasonable break time for employees to breastfeed as well as a private and clean space for expressing breast milk, other than a bathroom. HB 2228 would expand this requirement to an employer of smaller size, therefore benefiting more of Hawaii’s working mothers. We hope that eventually all employers provide private, clean and safe places to do this.
The bill would also require employers to post information visible to employees about their right to express breast milk at work.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify