Lawmakers give nod to breastfeeding bill

Business Daily Kenya:  Mercy Mwai and James Momanyi @PeopleDailyKe Breastfeeding mothers are set to get a major boost after Members of Par...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Mother breastfeeding a baby. Photo/Courtesy

Mercy Mwai and James Momanyi @PeopleDailyKe

Breastfeeding mothers are set to get a major boost after Members of Parliament yesterday approved a bill that will compel employers to set up facilities to enable mothers either express breast milk or breastfeed their children.

The legislators approved the Breastfeeding Mothers Bill sponsored by Murang’a County Women Representative Sabina Chege that compels employers to set up lactation rooms.

The Bill, which received overwhelming support from both sides of the House has, however, faced strong opposition from the Institute of Human Resource Management (IHRM) — the body that regulates the human resource profession in Kenya — who petitioned the National Assembly and Senate not to pass it, arguing that it would marginalise women of childbearing age in the labour market.

In the proposed law, Chege explained that mothers are forced to quit employment or prematurely stop breastfeeding in order to secure their jobs yet various treaties ratified by the government are explicit that no woman should be forced to compromise the health of her child in order to make a living.

According to the Bill, those who own, lease and rent a public or private building to the public with a maximum occupancy of 30 persons will have to install a baby changing facility that will not only be clean and private, but will also have a waste bucket, baby changing table and signs indicating its location.

To make it easy for breastfeeding mothers, employers will be required to provide a reasonable break time to them for the purpose of breastfeeding or expressing breast milk.

An employer who fails to comply with the said provisions will be liable upon conviction to a fine of not exceeding Sh 500,000 or an imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

During yesterday’s debate, Mombasa Woman Representative Mishi Mboko said breastfeeding is crucial in controlling ovulation and would reduce the cost of seeking expensive medical care due to the effects of family planning drugs.

However, in their petition, IHRM observed that the passing of the Bill would cause employers to stop employing women of childbearing age in order to reduce costs of setting up lactation facilities and also escape the penalty.

IHRM Executive Director Dorcas Wainaina said that investors are already overburdened by numerous levies 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 especially on women of childbearing age,” reads the petition. Meanwhile, MPs also approved the Finance Bill 2017 that recommended betting, lotteries and gaming activities be taxed at the rate of 35 per cent.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had rejected to assent to the Bill, which was meant to amend laws relating to various taxes and duties, because Parliament deleted the clause designed to discourage the youth from engaging in betting-related activities.

MPs drawn from Finance, Trade and Planning Committee shot down the proposal by National Treasury to raise taxes on betting, lottery, gaming and competition to 50 per cent, recommending 7.5 per cent, five per cent, 12 per cent and 15 per cent, respectively, in a move seen to make a departure from the initially proposed uniform tax rate of 50 per cent.

The post Lawmakers give nod to breastfeeding bill appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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