Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
322. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if he will consider introducing legislation to facilitate mothers breastfeeding in the workplace, including adequate breaks for breastfeeding; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3339/20]
As the Deputy may be aware, under Section 9 of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004, mothers in employment who have given birth within the previous 6 months (26 weeks) and who are breastfeeding are entitled to take one hour paid time off work each day in order to breastfeed. At the choice of the employer, a breastfeeding mother may breastfeed in the workplace or express breast milk, where facilities are provided in the workplace by the employer or, where facilities are not made available, have their working hours reduced (without loss of pay) to facilitate breastfeeding.
Employers are not obliged to provide facilities in the workplace to facilitate breastfeeding if the provision of such facilities would give rise to considerable costs. Breastfeeding breaks can be taken as a one hour break, two 30 minute breaks or three 20 minute breaks. Breaks may be longer and more frequent if agreed between the new mother and her employer. Mothers working part-time are also entitled to breastfeeding breaks, calculated on a pro-rata basis.
A commitment in “FIRST 5: A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families” provides for a review of the relevant provisions of the Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 on the issue of extending the current entitlement to paid time off work for breastfeeding mothers from 26 to 104 weeks after the baby’s birth. This reflects a similar commitment in the National Strategy on Women and Girls 2017-2020. Work is underway in my Department on legislative proposals in this regard.