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Supporting Breastfeeding Mums At Work Important

5 April 2006

CTU Media Release

Supporting Breastfeeding Mums At Work Important In Retaining Staff

The Council of Trade Unions is marking world breastfeeding week with a reminder to employers that providing a supportive working environment is critical in retaining staff.

"Provisions enabling mothers to breastfeed at work are important for family-friendly workplaces," Carol Beaumont, CTU secretary said today.

"Some employers have come on board with breastfeeding breaks and facilities. Many are taking too long to realise though that to retain workers they need to provide a supportive working environment - and for some women this is access to breaks and space for breastfeeding."

Breastfeeding is a workers' rights issue that sits alongside quality childcare provision, the right to return part-time or full-time and longer and better paid parental leave with better eligibility criteria Beaumont said.

"The CTU supports a legislative right to breastfeeding breaks and facilities for new mothers upon returning to work, and this is area
where we will continue to seek improvement in New Zealand's parental leave provisions."

There is a need for better policy and clearer communication about breastfeeding in the workplace, Beaumont said. Research carried out of Auckland businesses in 2003 by Women's Health Action indicated that while businesses believe they are breastfeeding friendly there is limited communication about it, and this lack of communication can be interpreted as lack of support and an unwillingness to accommodate breastfeeding at work.

"Breast feeding mums need to feel confident that workplaces have policies in place and a culture that supports them and their babies in the workplace," said Carol Beaumont.


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