My pregnant colleague does not have a place in office to take a nap whenever she feels too exhausted to go on. Why don’t companies have breastfeeding rooms and lounges for pregnant women? Isn’t there are a law that requires companies to make the work environment conducive for breastfeeding and pregnant mothers? Leilah
Much as breastfeeding benefits for both infant and the mother are well established, it is limited by workplace barriers. Breastfeeding increases immunity against diseases for both baby and the mother.
As such, providing a worksite breastfeeding support programme helps to lower medical insurance claims, employee absenteeism, increase employee retention, and boast employee morale and loyalty.
Thus the employer reaps substantial benefits and yet may be unlikely to adopt it unless if there are government regulations. Employers may not accommodate breastfeeding programmes because of perceived barriers like limited physical space, cost and loss of productivity and the belief that not all employees will be comfortable with it.
However, some companies in Uganda have already adopted this initiative and the lactating employees receive milk expression breaks, a place to express milk, a storage facility for the expressed milk (such as a refrigerator) and all employees are expected to assist in providing a positive atmosphere to support the programme. If you do not have this at your workplace, have a discussion with your supervisor on flexible work options.
Expectant employees are required to provide a doctors ‘recommendation indicating the medical condition that may temporarily limit work capabilities. Otherwise a normal pregnancy without complications is not a disability and doesn’t entitle one to special treatment or bedrest.
Alice Nankya L. Nsibuka
HR business partner
NMG - Uganda