The inability for some mothers to express milk during working hours has led to engorgement and infection. In some cases the continued lack of employer support resulted in employees leaving the role due to stress.
Senior minister of state for health Amy Khor has encouraged employers to support mothers who want to continue breastfeeding after returning to work by providing lactation facilities.
Employers and building owners can tap on the WorkPro Work-Life Grant introduced by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2013. Under the grant, co-funding of up to $20,000 is also available to build lactation rooms.
Software firm Greenwave Systems is one employer who had used the grant in 2016 to improve their facilities for working mothers.
“One of the challenges was availability of space, so we converted one of the small meeting rooms to a lactation room with a fridge to store breastmilk,” said Greenwave’s director of global human resources, Josephine Cheng.
Managers were also briefed to be flexible if employees exceeded the approved time off for lactation as it may differ from individual to individual, said Cheng.
However, Singapore employers have improved over the years.
According to an NTUC survey, the percentage of working mothers with access to private lactation rooms increased from 35% in 2013 to 60% in 2016.
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Large companies are doing “fairly well” in providing support to breastfeeding mothers, but smaller companies report space constraints in providing a suitable area for employees, shared Elaine Chow, president of breastfeeding mothers’ support group in Singapore.