Lactating mothers to breastfeed at workplaces if new Bill sals through

Employers will provide lactating rooms for breastfeeding mothers

In Summary
  • Employers who fail to comply will face Sh1 million fine or a year in jail or both
  • Presently, female employees exit the work force or stop breastfeeding in order to secure their job security.
A breastfeeding mother.
A breastfeeding mother.

Employers will be required to provide rooms for lactating mothers to breastfeed their babies or express milk for their kids if a new Bill in the National Assembly passes.

The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill, 2024 seeks to provide a legal framework for mothers who may wish to breastfeed their children at their workplace.

“The Bill provides for the right of a mother to breastfeed freely or express milk for her infant. The Bill further requires employers to provide breastfeeding employees with lactation rooms to either breastfeed or express their milk for their children,” said Nominated MP Sabina Chege, who sponsored the Bill.

The Bill notes that breastfeeding is the first preventive health measure that can be given to a child at birth and it also enhances the mother-infant relationship.

“It is nature’s first immunisation, enabling the infant to fight potential serious infection and it contains growth factors that enhance the maturation of an infant’s organ systems,” reads the Bill's memorandum of objectives and reasons.

Presently, female employees exit the workforce or stop breastfeeding to secure their job security.

“No woman should be forced to compromise the health of her child in order to make a living,” the Bill reads.

The Bill says an employer who does not provide a lactation room will have committed an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year, or both.

The Bill notes that Kenya is a signatory to treaties that provide for the right of an infant to exclusive breastfeeding for six months.

“The government should therefore promote and encourage breastfeeding and provide the specific measures that would present opportunities for working mothers to continue expressing their milk and breastfeeding their infant or young child," the Bill reads.

"Furthermore, the practice of breastfeeding may save the country’s valuable foreign exchange that may otherwise be used for milk importation."

The Bill also provides for the standards of lactating rooms. The Bill further provides for baby changing tables.

“This is important because the greater majority (public) finds it unsanitary to change a baby in a public setting such as a restaurant. This provision will also cater for persons who are travelling long distances in the accompaniment of babies, ensuring that in each public restroom, a baby changing facility is provided,” the Bill reads.

The Bill shows that a person who is accompanied by a baby in public may use any baby changing facility within reasonable distance for the purposes of cleaning and changing the baby.

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