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Bosses in Taipei not keen on setting up breastfeeding rooms: poll

2010/03/07 16:53:50

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Most Taipei-based companies are not veryinterested in setting up breastfeeding rooms for the convenience offemale employees, the results of a recent survey conducted by theTaipei City government showed Sunday.

Only 3.9 percent of the companies in Taipei City installedbreastfeeding rooms on their premises in 2009, according to theTaipei city Department of Labor.

The survey, conducted by the department's Labor StandardsInspection Office at the end of 2009, found that "lack of space" wasthe main reason why these companies or business operations did nothave breastfeeding rooms, as indicated by 39.3 percent of therespondents.

Nearly 28 percent of the 608 companies surveyed said it was notnecessary for them to have such a space because their employees donot fall into the demographic of new or expectant mothers.

According to the 10.3 percent of the respondents, their reasonsinclude the fact that there is no law requiring them set upbreastfeeding rooms and their female employees consider itunnecessary.

Some companies said their employees are either past childbearingage or are predominantly male, the survey found.

The Taipei City government has passed a regulation encouragingthe establishment of breastfeeding rooms in public buildings andareas and allowing women to breastfeed in public spaces. Theregulation is expected to take effect April 1.

The city government has also urged all companies in Taipei toinstall breastfeeding rooms on their premises for better treatment ofnursing mothers, as stipulated in the statute governing genderequality in the workplace.

The Taipei City government's efforts followed the Cabinet'sapproval in January of regulations that would allow women tobreastfeed in public spaces, which was seen as step toward betterprotection of women's rights.

The Cabinet regulations stipulate that women should not bebanned, dispersed, disturbed or asked to move if they arebreastfeeding their babies in a public area.

According to the draft bill, government agencies and businesspremises with floor space of more than 500 square meters, as well aspublic service facilities with over 1,000 square meters of floorspace, must be equipped with clearly marked breastfeeding rooms.

Breastfeeding rooms must be established on the premises of suchfacilities, which include railway and metro stations and airportterminals, within one year of the promulgation of the regulations,the draft bill states.

Failure to install breastfeeding rooms and clearly mark themcould result in fines of NT$6,000 (US$187) to NT$30,000, according tothe bill.

Owners and staff of such establishments will be subject to a fineof between NT$4,000 and NT$20,000 if they fail to cooperate duringrandom checks conducted by designated local government agencies, itadds.

According to the Cabinet-level Department of Health, 54.3 percentof Taiwan's women breastfeed in the first month after their babiesare born, but the percentage falls to 37.9 percent two months laterand to 25.8 percent four months down the line.

(By Johnson Sun and Deborah Kuo)