Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding – TEU submission

Posted By TEU on Sep 7, 2009 |

Submission of the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) Te Hautu Kahurangi o Aotearoa on the Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding

7 September 2009

For further information please contact:

Suzanne McNabb

Women’s Officer (Education, Organising and Policy)

The New Zealand Tertiary Education Union (TEU) Te Hautū Kahurangi o Aotearoa is the largest tertiary sector union in this country.  Our membership currently sits at approximately 11,500 members, more than half of whom are women, covering all types of TEOs in the sector.

Previously the Association of University Staff and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (both now the TEU) supported the introduction of legislation to provide appropriate breaks and facilities for women who wish to breastfeed and/or express milk while working and we accordingly support the Code of Practice for Employers which will create standards for application of the legislation.

We also consider it vital that information is made available and readily accessible for employees as well as employers.

In the previous submission we maintained that the breaks should be treated as work time and remunerated accordingly in line with the ILO Convention 183 and we continue to hold that position. We would like to see this employment practice, already implemented by a number of employers, given acknowledgement in the Code (21).

We note that the Introduction to the proposed Code (2.) says that the objective of the amendments to the Act is to create minimum standards. However, it is not our reading of the Act that the purpose is to create minimum standards. For clarity we quote the Purpose of the Act:

  • The purpose of this Act is—
    • (a) to insert new Parts 6C and 6D into the principal Act to—
      • (i) require facilities and breaks to be provided, so far as is reasonable and practicable in the circumstances, for employees who wish to breastfeed in the workplace or during work periods; and
      • (ii) require employees to be provided with rest breaks and meal breaks; and

Therefore we believe both employers and employees and our society generally would benefit from a more positive enabling approach in the Introduction to the Code and in stating the purpose of the Code (4.), namely to talk of establishing “exemplary practice” for the provision of breaks and facilities for infant feeding.

In (10,) the operational requirements of the business and the needs and entitlements of employees are both identified as needing to be taken into account. We believe the Code would benefit from the addition of acknowledgement of the well researched benefits to infants of breastfeeding as a ‘social good’ which good employers may also wish to include in the balance.

In (12.) identifies resources an employer may wish to take into account. In our view the employer’s reputation is also a ‘resource’ of the employer which could be added to this list.

(15.) notes that a communal fridge is acceptable. While this may be so, it is not always well understood by other employees using the fridge and it could be extremely helpful to employers to note in this section that information and education (“breast milk is a food”) needs to be provided along with any communal fridge use.

It would also be helpful to note that portable mini-fridges are readily and cheaply available and would be an asset to the workplace. (This purchase of such fridges has been extremely successful as part of a joint project between the TEU and the University of Auckland).

(16.) As toilets are absolutely not an acceptable place for breastfeeding, we believe the statement should express this view more firmly.

(23.) As well as noting that a written agreement is advisable, it could be of assistance to employers to note that a number of collective agreements already have provisions in writing and to provide an example for other employers who may wish to incorporate best practice in their own agreements.


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