Most Dutch businesses not providing breastfeeding employees adequate space to pump
Most employers in the Netherlands know they have to offer breastfeeding employees space and time during work to feed their babies or pump breast milk. But breastfeeding rooms rarely meet the legal requirements, and very few employers actually know what the requirements are, the Nutrition Center reported after surveying over 800 employers.
Employees have had the right to feed their children during work since 1919. Breastfeeding employees are allowed to pump or breastfeed for up to 25 percent of their working hours for up to nine months after giving birth. Employers are legally obliged to ensure women can breastfeed and pump comfortably and hygienically.
According to the Working Conditions Decree, breastfeeding rooms must meet several requirements, including comfortable chairs and fresh air or climate control. Only 54 percent of surveyed employers said they had a comfortable chair in their breastfeeding/pumping space, and only 44 percent provided fresh air or climate control. Only 9 percent of employers said they are fully informed about the laws and regulations surrounding breastfeeding and pumping.
“It is extremely valuable for women who continue to breastfeed after their leave to be able to pump in a pleasant place,” Lolkje de Vries of the Nutrition Center said. “If you support employees in breastfeeding, it positively affects both your employee and your organization. Among other things, it ensures less absenteeism because breastfed children are less likely to become ill in the first few years.”
Supporting employees who breastfeed also strengthens the image of an organization and makes it attractive for women. “A plus in this tight labor market.”
Despite the advantages and that it is mandated by law, about 20 percent of employers said they would rather not have their employees breastfeed or pump during work. And 25 percent said it causes uncomfortable situations or “does not suit the organization.” That shows that there is still a lot of work to do, De Vries said.
“Employers who unconditionally support their employees when pumping ensure that women do not feel burdened by taking the time and rest they are entitled to.”
The Nutrition Center set up a checklist to help employers set up adequate space for breastfeeding or pumping.