Govt pushes for breastfeeding, meal breaks at work

Herald on Sunday 23 March 2008
The Government is to legislate to give women the right to breastfeed their babies at work – and will also provide for minimum meal and rest breaks for all workers. Labour Minister Trevor Mallard and his Cabinet colleague Maryan Street announced the moves at the centenary commemorations of the 1908 Blackball miners’ strike over meal breaks. The ministers also announced plans to allow shift workers to transfer their public holidays. Mr Mallard said the proposed changes to legislation would be introduced this year.

…Under the changes to be made to the Employment Relations Act:
* Employers would be required to provide, where reasonable and practical, facilities and breaks for employees who wished to breastfeed. A code of employment practice would guide employers on how to uphold the obligations.

Ms Street said there was currently no explicit legal protection ensuring women had the right to breastfeed their babies at work. Evidence suggested access to breastfeeding breaks and facilities in the workplace was mixed, and the extent to which discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding was understood to be prohibited was mixed, she said. The law would be changed to explicitly prevent discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding, she said.