Offer unpaid extension of maternity leave

PHOTO: Offer unpaid extension of maternity leave

WHILE I appreciate the Government's push for companies to provide flexi-work arrangements for mothers, in reality, private firms are very much reluctant to do so.

Several new mothers I know have faced resistance when trying to arrange to work from home temporarily, or to take unpaid leave for a couple of months after the end of their maternity leave.

The Health Promotion Board and the World Health Organisation recommend that the mother breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of the infant's life.

With just four months' maternity leave, mothers would have to pump milk for half an hour, every three to four hours for two months, while they are at work - something not all employers might be agreeable to.

With no flexi-work option, mothers might give up on breastfeeding and switch to formula milk instead.

Bonding with the child is also disrupted by the mother going back to work early, especially with long and stressful working hours.

Perhaps the Government can follow Australia's lead by making it mandatory for companies to offer a certain number of months of unpaid leave, or a work-from-home option for new mothers.

It can be left to the employees' discretion to exercise the right.

Businesses already have to find cover for women on maternity leave, so extending the leave by a couple of months should not be a problem, especially since it is unpaid.

Letter by Jessica Jaganathan (Ms)

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