Mothers would be given paid breastfeeding breaks by law in proposed plan
Employers would also have to provide facilities to feed and store milk
Business leaders criticised proposals and didn't support changing the law
By TAMARA COHEN, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 20:35 EST, 19 February 2015 | UPDATED: 02:20 EST, 20 February 2015
New mothers would be given paid breastfeeding breaks at work by law in plans proposed by MPs
New mothers would be given paid breastfeeding breaks at work by law in plans proposed by MPs.
Employers would have to allow time for staff to NURSE their newborns without losing pay as well as provide facilities for them to feed and store milk.
Promoting breastfeeding at home and in the workplace was one of the recommendations made by experts, MPs and peers on the All-Party Group on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.
Business leaders were critical of the proposals, saying many firms already take account of their employees’ needs as parents. They did not support changing the law to force them to do so.
Breastfeeding is known to have many health benefits, including reducing the risk of disease for baby and mother, as well as preventing OBESITY and diabetes in the child’s later life.
Experts are concerned that Britain has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the Western world, with a third of women never feeding naturally, and most who try giving up after a few weeks rather than the recommended six months or more.
The group said with no legal requirement to give working mothers paid breaks to breastfeed many women will conclude that although breastfeeding may be theoretically best, ‘for those in the real world it is easier to abandon the struggle’.
It calls for all employers to ‘provide a written policy on breastfeeding’ and national targets to increase it. The report’s authors also recommend a change to the Equality Act 2010 to make sure women staff have paid breastfeeding breaks.
In Norway, women staff are entitled to paid breaks of up to two hours a day for breastfeeding. There have been controversial calls from the EU to impose this standard in all member states, despite criticism it could cost European businesses billions of pounds per year.
Lena Levy, head of labour market policy at the Confederation of British Industry, which speaks for businesses, said: ‘Businesses want to support NURSING mothers on their return to work.
Businesses want to support NURSING mothers on their return to work. The best way to do this is for mums to have an open conversation about their needs on returning to work. A legislative approach is not the right solution.
Lena Levy, head of labour market policy at the Confederation of British Industry
‘The best way to do this is for mums to have an open conversation about their needs on returning to work. A legislative approach is not the right solution.’
The group’s report on ‘investing in the early years’ was written by former Labour MP Helen Clark and a group of academics and health professional.
It is endorsed by the group’s serving MPs and peers including the former children’s TV presenter Baroness (Floella) Benjamin.
Breastfeeding, the report says, strengthens ‘attachment’ between mother and child, and the baby can reap ‘inestimable benefits’ in later life.
‘The role of breastfeeding in protecting against a range of infections and diseases is well-known. ‘It also advances socio-emotional development and enhances the cognitive abilities of the child, lessening the likelihood of downward social mobility in later life.’
‘Increasing resources to support parenting and secure and safe feeding patterns, would represent and long-term financial saving for Government.’
Miss Clark said: ‘Getting it right for young families from the outset will reap financial rewards.
‘The cost to the Exchequer of failure to INVEST at that time can incur a burden on social services, health, education, benefits and the criminal justice system.’