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Mothers leave work to breastfeed-Need to create breastfeeding spaces

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Mothers who are forced to leave their jobs to breastfeed or pump breast milk are left without coverage, with as a result, part of their salary is deducted, with the Parliament identifying loopholes in the implementation of the legislation passed in 2018, however to date nothing has changed.

In 2020, the Ministry of Health submitted amending regulations for the 2018 Maternity Protection Act, based on which minimum requirements were defined for the creation and operation of spaces where women workers can, without difficulty and with complete safety for themselves and their infants, to nurse their children. However, the regulations had been withdrawn by the Ministry of Health, before being brought to the Plenary for a vote, in order to be tabled again with the regulation of breastfeeding in public places, as reported.

Since then, no action has been taken by the Ministry of Health to table new regulations, with the matter remaining at a standstill, with the Health Commission seeking to reopen the dialogue, with the aim of finding a solution that will provide support to mothers.

“The matter was registered before the regulations came from the previous Government, because I felt that actions should be taken to make it easier for women in motherhood. I considered then that we should proceed to the next step and start the discussion on the creation of breastfeeding spaces either in public spaces that concern the public, or in workplaces, public and private sector, that concern working women”, he pointed out to REPORTER one of the vice-presidents of the Democratic Alarm and deputy president of the Health Committee of the Parliament, Savia Orfanidou.

The need to create such spaces is also underlined by the complaints that reach the Parliament, since as pointed out by Ms. Orfanidou “there are complaints from young mothers who leave an hour from work to breastfeed and their employer deducts part of their salary. The regulations need to come. They don't have to be permanent, they can be temporary, but they must meet the basic conditions”.

During the discussion of the regulations that had been tabled, it was decided that there should be specially designed areas, either on a temporary or permanent basis, in the workplaces, while it was agreed by all parties involved that there should be an area, other than the toilet, to be clean, for the woman to have privacy for two reasons, either to breastfeed or to store milk, which means that there had to be a refrigerator and air conditioning in the specially designed areas.

“Unfortunately, for some reason, the regulations were withdrawn by the then health minister, which bothered me. So, now that the maternity leave extension bill has been pushed through, I've decided, at my own insistence, that the discussion on breastfeeding spaces needs to be reopened. There is an article in the 2018 Maternity Protection Act that mandates the creation of these spaces for breastfeeding women in their workplace.”

Nothing was done

The withdrawal of the regulations promoted by the Ministry of Health at the time had the result that until today, more than five years after the legislation was passed, nothing has been done, despite the fact that it is the obligation of businesses to prepare these spaces.

“Changes must be made and the Ministry of Health must come with the regulations. There is an obligation by law, that a woman who chooses to stop work to breastfeed, pump or store breast milk and her employer is obliged to provide her with all the necessary facilities. It's not optional, it's mandatory. It was a mistake that the Government withdrew it”, emphasized the vice-president of DISY.

However, Ms. Orfanidou made it clear that he intends to pressure the Government to make any changes and submit the necessary regulations that will change the situation, “because this is the right thing to do to make it easier for women”.

Source: reporter.com.cy

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