Breaks and breastfeeding bill passes first hurdle

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act guaranteeing rest and meal breaks, and requiring employers to provide facilities and breaks for breastfeeding mothers passed its first reading in Parliament this week.

The Employment Relations (Breaks and Infant Feeding) Amendment Bill passed by 119 votes to 2, and gives workers rights that many assumed were already in law.

“Bank staff already have meal and rest breaks that were won through collective bargaining,” said Finsec President Kelvin Pycroft. “However these breaks were not a right provided under law, and had to be fought for by unions. We endorse and support increases to legal minimum rights such as this bill, but will continue to fight for conditions above the legal minimum.”

The bill requires all employers to provide appropriate facilities and breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed or express milk either at work or during work time where reasonable and practicable.

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