Bill on breastfeeding seeks to fine employers Ksh1 million for non-compliance

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Breastfeeding room
A lactation room. PHOTO/COURTESY: oakland.edu

The Breastfeeding Mothers Bill of 2019 tabled in the National Assembly makes it compulsory for all persons who own, lease or rent buildings holding at least 50 people to provide a lactation room.

It obliges both government and private entities to set up baby changing facilities for use by mothers with non-compliance expected to attract a year’s jail-term or a fine of at least Ksh1 million.

“A person convicted of an offence under this Act shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or to an imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both,” the proposed law reads as quoted by the Business Daily.

The room, according to the bill should be “a clean, private facility with a baby changing table, waste bucket and a sign indicating its location. It must also not be a bathroom or toilet and should have a lockable door.

Additionally, those fined for failure to provide lactation places face a Ksh10,000 fine daily as this has seen working mothers suffer the indignity of struggling to breastfeed their babies.

According to the Business Daily, the bill by Murang’a Women Representative Sabina Chege also bars employers from discriminating women based on pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding in accessing employment opportunities and benefits.

Currently, only a handful of private and public organisations have lactation rooms with most breastfeeding mothers returning to work after three-month maternity leave being forced to express milk for their infants in cars, washrooms or empty boardrooms.

Employers will also be required to provide appropriate programmes that help develop a baby’s cognitive, emotional, social and language abilities.

A report by lobby Kenya Private Sector Alliance from earlier this year showed that only 37 companies have lactation rooms underlining the dire situation.

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