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18 Aug 2022

Experts call for more support for Waterford employees to breastfeed at work

Experts call for more support for Waterford employees to breastfeed at work

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill is being introduced as part of an EU directive which has a deadline of August 2022

As World Breastfeeding Week begins (August 1 – 7), Irish experts are calling for increased supports for working parents in Waterford and across Ireland.

According to Katie Mugan, founder of NursingMama.ie, Breastfeeding & returning to work can be one of the most stressful times in a parent’s breastfeeding journey and can prove challenging for many parents in the early days as breastfeeding is a learned experience for both the parents and baby. 

Katie Mugan said:

“Often parents are just getting into their groove when maternity leave finishes and they must return to work. For many exclusively breastfed infants, they may not take a bottle which can heighten a parent’s anxiety when they return to work. 

“In the smaller infant, bottles are often an easier way to feed the baby for other caregivers yet establishing a baby on a bottle, if they are refusing, can take up the last few weeks of a parent’s maternity leave.

“The older infant or child may be able to get through the day simply using a sippy or open cup until a mother returns home to feed.

“The breastfeeding parent is a key figure here and must be supported. Depending on a the milk supply & age of child, they may need to pump while at work. Having a private room to do so is necessary and a somewhere to store this milk.”

Katie Mugan continued:

“Companies need to prioritise work and family life balance as this can benefit them greatly. Breastfeeding not only leads to better health for children in the short and long term but also the family unit too. Supporting parents and reducing a stressful return to work can lead to better performance in the work place”.

The Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Bill is being introduced as part of an EU directive which has a deadline of August 2022.

It has been proposed that the Bill brought to cabinet, will provide rights for workers to take breaks to breastfeed or express for up to two years after the date of confinement of their child. The current law only provides for 26 weeks.

Employees will be entitled to take those breaks in one block of sixty minutes, two blocks of thirty minutes or three blocks of twenty minutes in an eight hour working day. They can also take one hour at end of their working day.

CEO and Co-Founder of HR Buddy, Damien McCarthy worries that too much legislation is being introduced as part of a box ticking exercise by Government with little or no supports to help the employer to implement such legislation.

This, he says may lead to employment relations difficulties between employers and employees in some circumstances.

Mr McCarthy said:

“There’s a whole host of employers who have never dealt with breastfeeding in the workplace before, therefore guidance and supports are required in order to make it work.

“Appropriate facilities that are logistical and allow for privacy must be available. Facilities in the workplace need to be reviewed to ensure workers are encouraged to take their breaks. This means financial assistance is needed for SME’s.”

 

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