It has been recently been brought to light that there is no specific legal provision with respect to employers’ obligation towards women who want to breastfeed at the work place. As things stand today, employers do not have any duty to accommodate such circumstances. In fact, there has recently been a movement for employers to make it easier for mothers to continue breastfeeding their children once they have gone back to work.
Legislation as it stands today only states that employers:
- must not require breastfeeding employees to perform any work which may endanger her health and safety;
- must adopt all the measures aimed at protecting their physical and mental health;
- must not discriminate breastfeeding employees.
In order to support greater protection for women who wish to continue breastfeeding on return to work, sufficient legislative support should be granted to women. In particular, it is suggested that employers should set aside a private room and to allow the child to come to the office at lunchtime (where possible), as well as to provide a separate fridge for storing the milk and also to allow women to be more flexible with their working hours. Employers should also clearly inform breastfeeding women of measures, benefits and facilities which have been granted them at work place. Such information may be included in a Maternity Policy which is made available to employees.
Moreover, maternity protection legislative provisions should also be extended to women who are not generally entitled to maternity provisions, e.g. women employed under short-term contracts, casual and part-time-workers, students and immigrants.