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New legislation will benefit mothers and babies

Hon Steve Chadwick
Minister of Women’s Affairs
Associate Minister of Health

9 April 2008 Media Statement
New legislation will benefit mothers and babies

New legislation that will support mothers in returning to work and give children the best possible start in life was today welcomed by Associate Health and Women’s Affairs Minister Steve Chadwick.

Steve Chadwick was speaking during the first reading of the Employment Relations (Breaks and Infant Feeding) Amendment Bill.

“This Bill marks an important step in the Labour-led government’s ongoing efforts to promote and protect the rights of breastfeeding women and their children.

“We know that breastfeeding is important for babies’ growth, development and health – it provides optimum nutrition, assists physical development and protects against infectious diseases. It is also good for the mother’s health.”

Under the new legislation, all employers will be required to provide appropriate facilities and breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk at work, where reasonable and practicable. A code of employment practice will provide employers with guidance on how to uphold their obligations.

“I chaired the Health Committee that considered Elizabeth Weatherly’s petition in 2004 and in turn made a number of recommendations, including helping employers to accommodate breastfeeding in the workplace and providing a family friendly work environment.

“In 2007 I developed a Private Members Bill that required guidelines on facilitating breastfeeding in the workplace, and today, as a mother and former mid-wife, I am thrilled to see the right to breastfeed at work becoming enshrined in law.

“In 2006 66 per cent of six-week old babies were exclusively breastfed, but by six months this figure dropped to only 25 per cent.

“We know the benefits of breastfeeding – as responsible members of parliament we need to be doing everything we can to increase breastfeeding rates.”

The government has a range of initiatives in place that support and promote breastfeeding.


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