Mon, 5 Aug 2002
Breastfeeding Rights For Family Friendly Workplaces
“Provisions enabling mothers to breastfeed at work are important for family-friendly workplaces,” said Council of Trade Unions vice president Darien Fenton today. This week is World Breastfeeding Week.
“Breastfeeding is a workplace rights issue as are issues around returning to paid work after childbirth, such as childcare facilities, the right to return part-time or full-time, and longer and better paid parental leave with better eligibility criteria.”
Darien Fenton said breastfeeding was strongly supported by international bodies like the World Health Organisation and the ILO.
“Breastfeeding was one of the reasons why paid parental leave was so important because at least three months is required to establish breastfeeding patterns,” she said.
“Given new paid parental leave legislation, it is timely to look at what is required to ensure women who chose to breastfeed can continue when go back to work.”
The ILO Maternity Protection Convention provides for three months minimum maternity leave and has guidelines to protect the right for women to continue breastfeeding when they return to work, for workplaces which provide facilities for breastfeeding or expressing milk and for time spent breastfeeding or expressing milk to be counted as paid working time.
“A number of unions have negotiated breastfeeding breaks,” said Darien Fenton.
“Women are unlikely to be able to negotiate breastfeeding rights on their own. Because of this there is a need for legislative provisions backed by good education and union-negotiated provisions in employment agreements.”