Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Defence
Question 371: To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the rights in place for women in the workplace who wish to breastfeed their children by expressing; if the current legislation in a private sector job to be provided with a private room up until the baby is six months will be extended to two years as recommended by the World Health Organisation. [17418/11]
I draw the Deputy's attention to Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 and to the Maternity Protection (Protection of Mothers who are Breast-feeding) Regulations 2004. Under these provisions, all women in employment who have given birth within the previous six months and who are breast-feeding are entitled to take time off work each day in order to breastfeed. I should explain that employers are not obliged to provide facilities in the workplace to facilitate breast-feeding if the provision of such facilities would give rise to considerable costs. At the choice of her employer, the employee may therefore opt to breast-feed in the workplace or express breast milk, where facilities are provided in the workplace by the employer; or have her working hours reduced (without loss of pay) to facilitate breast-feeding where facilities are not made available. While there are no plans at present to extend the statutory entitlement beyond six months, my Department will keep the matter under review as part of an overall review of maternity protection and family leaves in the light of developing European Union law in this area.