Female Workers Member of Parliament, Hon Agnes Kunihira
Bill seeks to facilitate breast feeding mothers at work
By Hon Agnes Kunihira, MP
The benefits of breastfeeding for children and mothers are wide spread ranging from supporting healthy brain development in babies and young children, protecting infants against infection, decreasing the risk of obesity and disease, reducing healthcare costs, and protecting nursing mothers against ovarian cancer and breast cancer .
The Employment Amendment Bill 2019 seeks to support breastfeeding through provision of paid parental leave and breastfeeding breaks for mothers. The law seeks for the creation of enabling working environments for breast feeding mothers by employers by providing basic accommodations for breastfeeding mothers at work.
‘Uganda employers should emulate Parliament by establishing day care centers for mothers to nurse their babies. Parliament has dedicated space for female MPs and staff to breastfeed”. Promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for working mothers increases chances of babies growing up healthier as health experts recommend optimal breastfeeding for at least six months. Likewise, the plan saves female MPs the inconvenience of pumping breast milk into bottles for their babies to drink when they are at work.
These accommodations include time for women to express milk and a private space that is not a bathroom each time they need to pump. Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. Balancing work and family is an important priority for all employees. Today, more than 80% of new mothers begin breastfeeding and 6 in every 10 new mothers are in the workforce.
Employers can adjust schedules temporarily in creative ways so that women have the time they need to express milk. A variety of permanent, flexible, or mobile space options enable employers to provide support, even when space is limited. Supporting nursing mothers at work brings businesses a positive return on investment. Health benefits. Breastfeeding is so important for the health of mothers and babies that major medical organizations recommend that babies receive nothing but breast milk during the first 6 months of life and continue receiving breast milk for at least their first year.
Biological needs. Breastfeeding is a normal biological process. Breastfeeding employees need breaks throughout the workday to pump because milk production is a constant, ongoing biological process. A breastfeeding mother needs to feed her baby or pump milk about every 3 hours. Otherwise, her body will stop making breast milk. When a nursing mother cannot pump or breastfeed, the milk builds up in her breasts, causing pain and sometimes infection. Comfort. A lactation space is necessary because in order to begin the flow of milk, mothers must be able to sit down and be relaxed and not stressed. Mothers who are in an open or uncomfortable space may not be able to pump milk or may not be able to pump milk as quickly.
Privacy. A private space is necessary because pumping or expressing milk is a very different experience from breastfeeding a baby in person. Most moms can breastfeed a baby very discreetly, and many moms breastfeed in public with no concerns. Workplaces should formulate policies that encourage working mothers to breast feed Breast milk is a foundation for life, by denying your child breast milk, you are denying them nutrients, as a country, we therefore, need to do everything possible to support, promote and protect the practice of breast feeding.
Determining how extra time beyond regular breaks will be accommodated if it takes longer for an employee to arrive at the lactation space and finish expressing milk Deciding who will cover for the employee, if needed, during breaks
Stating how breaks will be scheduled among multiple women who may need milk expression or pumping breaks Explaining how an employee’s regular schedule or route will be temporarily changed to accommodate lactation breaks
Companies and businesses can educate supervisors, managers, and employees about the benefits of and legal requirements for supporting nursing mothers. Supervisors can assume responsibility for informing all pregnant women about their options for expressing milk before maternity leave and for working out scheduling and space for individual employees as needed.
Employees can assume responsibility for notifying supervisors as soon as possible of their needs and for keeping the milk expression space clean. Co -workers can support nursing mothers by filling in during pumping breaks, knowing that breastfeeding mothers need to pump about every 3 hours, understanding that mothers who need a break to pump are not trying to avoid their work duties, and being supportive of the flexibility that mothers need to balance breastfeeding with work. Coworkers can also be assured that breastfed babies are healthier, which means that an employee who breastfeeds is less likely to miss work to care for a sick baby.
What the law says about Supporting Nursing Mothers at Work
“56A. Protection of breast feeding women from discrimination.
1) A female employee shall not be discriminated against on account of breast feeding.
2) A female employee shall be provided with the right to one or more daily breaks or a daily reduction of hours of work to breastfeed her child following sixty working days prescribed under section 56.
3) The period during which nursing breaks or the reduction of daily hours of work are allowed, their number, the duration of nursing breaks and the procedures for the reduction of daily hours of work shall not be less than two hours in aggregate.
4) The breaks or the reduction of daily hours of work referred to under subsection (1) shall be counted as working time and remunerated accordingly.
5) Where possible, the employer may provide the female breast feeding employee with breast feeding facility under adequate hygienic conditions within or near the workplace for the purpose of breast feeding, bottle feed or expressing milk.”
6) In recognition of the well documented health advantages of breastfeeding for infants and mothers, employers are encouraged to put in place breastfeeding employees to express their milk during work hours.
7) The Minister may, by statutory instrument prescribe additional requirements and privileges for breastfeeding mothers.■