Breastfeeding and maternity protection

24 Aug 2020

There still appears to be a lack of understanding from employers and workers about legal maternity rights and benefits, as reflected in the non-compliance rates below for the factories assessed in 2019:
♦ 35% of employers were non-compliant with requirements to pay workers on time and correctly when they take maternity leave;
♦ 54% of employers were non-compliant with requirements to provide;
♦ 67% of the workplaces accessed were non-compliant with the need to provide adequate day care facilities.

The Mothers@Work pr ogramme, developed in partnership with UNICEF to establish new medical clinics and childcare facilities across our affiliated factories, has encouraged them to make time and space available for mothers to breastfeed. The programme involved the implementation of seven minimum standards which address the challenges faced by young mothers. These standards are:

1. Paid maternity leave;
2. Provision of breastfeeding and childcare facilities;
3. Flexible working arrangements;
4. Health protection;
5. Medical benefits;
6. Employment protection;
7. Non-discrimination.

Tania Akhter is one of the breastfeeding mothers employed at Sparrow Apparels Ltd. in Gazipur, on the outskirts of capital Dhaka. The 28-year old Quality Inspector is a mother of two and has been bringing her nine-month-old son to the on-site childcare centre and breastfeeding room since her return from maternity leave.

“I can take care of my son, and I can feed him properly. Keeping my son closer to me even in the workplace and knowing that he is safe and growing up healthy gives me
peace of mind. This helps me to concrete on my work better,” said Tania. “Having such facilities is very helpful and as a mother, I can’t ask for a better workplace.”

The programme has been expanded to 80 factories over the course of 2019 and we are looking forward to seeing an improvement in compliance in forthcoming assessments.

* Mothers@Work is a national programme to strengthen maternity rights and breastfeeding support in the workplace. It was initiated by UNICEF Bangladesh to
promote, protect and support breastfeeding among working mothers and to ensure women’s equal participation in the workforce. The programme was developed
with generous financial support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and UNICEF, and contributions from BRAC and the NGO Phulki. Mothers@
Work was launched jointly by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and with Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) in August 2017.

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