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Breastfeeding rights law unnecessary, ill-timed - Former JEF boss

Published:Sunday | May 12, 2013 | 5:45 PM

The Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) says the enactment or revision of the law to protect the rights of lactating mothers may be unnecessary and ill-timed.

Former president of the JEF, Wayne Chen, says while he fully supports any initiative to uphold the breastfeeding rights of lactating mothers, more details is needed as the proposal to establish facilities in work places may be impractical and burdensome for some businesses.

He argues that this may be impractical particularly for micro and small enterprises, which may not be able to readily establish or provide such facilities. Micro and small businesses employ about 36.5 per cent of the labour force.

Chen also questions where children will be kept when not being breastfed.

The former JEF president was reacting to news of a ministry paper that was tabled in Parliament by Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke, last week, proposing that government enact or review legislation to protect the breastfeeding rights of working women and establish the means for implementation and enforcement of the law.

It is reported that a policy was approved by Cabinet on May 1 and the agriculture minister says the law should be in place by the end of the legislative year.

But Chen contends that there are other critical pieces of legislation before parliament which should be given priority consideration.

He also argues that enforcing breastfeeding legislation in workplaces will be inequitable, as many people are employed outside the formal economy. He says in this regard, the law cannot be enforced across the board.

He suggests the issue of breastfeeding rights for working women can be better addressed through public education.


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