HR regulator opposes bill on breastfeeding

Business Daily Kenya:  The Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) has opposed the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill which is before the Nat...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Mother breastfeeding a baby. Photo/Courtesy

The Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) has opposed the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill which is before the National Assembly. IHRM, the body that regulates the human resource profession in Kenya, has sent a petition to the National Assembly and Senate citing the bill sponsored by Murang’a Women’s Representative Sabina Chege, is capable of marginalising women of childbearing age.

According to IHRM, the provision would cause employers keen on reducing operational costs to avoid engaging women of childbearing age to escape the penalty.

In the petition signed by Executive Director Dorcas Wainaina, IHRM stated that investors are already overburdened by numerous productions costs ranging from taxation and high cost of energy.

“To add another cost on labour in the form of facilities and other provisions of breastfeeding mothers is unreasonable, unfair and unjustifiable. To bridge the cost gap, employers may resort to downsizing of labour more especially on women of childbearing age,” reads the petition.

Under the bill’s provision, currently at its second reading, employers will be obliged to put up stations with all the necessary facilities, including electric outlets for breast pumps, refrigerators and appropriate cooling facilities within office premises.

The employers will also be required to provide “comfortable” seats for mothers to make certain the breastfeeding experience is as relaxed as possible. “All employers shall in the workplace establish lactation stations, which shall be adequately provided with necessary equipment and facilities,” reads part of the new clause in the bill, which also compels employers to permit nursing mothers breaks to breastfeed their babies during working hours.

“An employer shall grant all nursing employees break intervals in addition to the regular times off for meals to breastfeed or express milk,” adds the clause. The clause, however, specifies that breastfeeding period must not exceed one hour for every eight working hours.

Further, it states that a breastfeeding mother could apply for flexible working arrangements and that any employer who does not act in accordance with with the rules would be legally responsible upon conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh500,000 imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.

In 2015, Kitui South Member of Parliament Rachel Nyamai had also presented a similar breastfeeding bill to Parliament but it failed to become law after business groups threatened to stop employing women if forced to offer breastfeeding facilities.

Although some companies like Safaricom are already providing breastfeeding facilities and space for lactating mothers, IHRM argues that organisations that have provided these services were well performing organisations even before introduction of the said facilities.

“Well performing organisations that have provided the facility cannot qualify the argument that it is the act of breastfeeding that contributes to higher profitability.

The bill is not based on any study that shows that the available social structures in society on breastfeeding have any problem,” says Wainaina. IHRM wants Parliament to drop the bill in a bid to strengthen the place of women in workplaces and to promote the Kenyan enterprise and economy.

The post HR regulator opposes bill on breastfeeding appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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