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More new mums than ever take official breastfeeding breaks at work

15:10 27/02/2020

According to national insurance agency Inami, the number of women being reimbursed for breastfeeding breaks at work rose by 78% between 2013 and 2018. Women are much more likely now to invoke their right to official breaks at work, according to the agency.

No, she’s not taking the baby to work. Mums who work full time can legally take two breaks of up to 30 minutes each to express milk. Part-time workers can get one break a day. The breaks can be taken for up to nine months after giving birth.

The breaks, which can add up to an hour a day, are not paid by the employer, but a worker can request to be reimbursed for the time by Inami. In 2013, the agencies arranged pay-outs to 1,206 women. In 2018 – the last year for which figures are available – the number was 2,148.

Mountain of paperwork

The sharp increase in workers requesting reimbursement is “a signal that women and employers alike are much more aware of this benefit,” said Anne Dedry of the Kraamzorg child-care expertise centre in Leuven. “But it also shows that it is more seen as normal that women would want to take advantage of this right.”

While Dedry is pleased at the increase in the number of workers requesting the benefit, she thinks it would be a lot more if the process were simpler. The woman must inform her employer of her intention to take the breaks two months before starting them, she must get a monthly order from her doctor, and both she and her employer must fill out forms for Inami – also monthly.

“It’s an administrative nightmare,” says Dedry, who is also a politician with Flemish party Groen. “It should be made a lot easier.”

Photo: NegMarDesign/iStock/Getty Images

Written by Lisa Bradshaw