The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has stressed the need for employers of labour to allow moms to breastfeed their children at workplace.
Marking World Breastfeeding Week occasion, which is celebrated in more than 170 countries from August 1 to 7 of every year in order to encourage the practice and improve the health of babies, the ILO highlights the importance of allowing breastfeeding at the workplace.
The organisation said allowing breastfeeding at work is good for mothers and their infants, and it’s good for employers of labour.
“The right to continue breastfeeding – upon return to work from maternity leave – is important for the health of the mother and especially for that of her child,” said Manuela Tomei, who heads the ILO Labour Protection Department.
She said employers who give mothers the time to breastfeed benefit a higher rate of return to work and enhanced employee morale.
“Employers who give mothers the time to breastfeed, and designate a place where they can do so in hygienic conditions, benefit in terms of increased productivity as a result of lower parental absence on account of improved child health, a higher rate of return to work and enhanced employee morale,” she said.
A report published by the ILO in 2010, titled “Maternity at Work: A review of national legislation” says that legislation in at least 92 countries provides for breastfeeding breaks, in addition to regular breaks, for nursing mothers.
The time allowed is often at least one hour, usually divided into two breaks of 30 minutes each. But many mothers still have to choose between either returning to work and giving up breastfeeding or facing the risk of losing their job.
To date, 25 countries have ratified the ILO’s Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183) which calls, among others, for at least one breastfeeding break a day or a reduction of working hours to allow for breastfeeding.
Workplace support for mothers who are breastfeeding has been a basic provision of maternity protection since the first Maternity Protection Convention (No. 3) in 1919.
The convention, adopted at the ILO’s annual conference in 2000, is legally binding for the countries that ratified it. The ILO also adopted a recommendation saying that where possible facilities for nursing should be made available at or near the workplace.
Filed Under: Labour