25 April 2014: NTUC collaborates with HPB and SNEF to introduce employer guide on lactation support at workplaces for breastfeeding mothers
Published on 25 April 2014
Today, students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) pit their creativity against each other to vie for the “Most Innovative Nursing System” design. Jointly organised by the NTUC U Family and the School of Design & Environment (DE) and Ideawerkz of NP, the competition aimed to gather inputs on how to create a system that can be used as a temporary nursing room space for breastfeeding mothers who need to express their breast milk at the workplace.
This competition was launched as part of U Family’s efforts under “Project Liquid Gold”, which serves to advocate and raise awareness that returning to work should not be a key barrier to breastfeeding.
“Many new mothers decided to stop breastfeeding their newborns when they return to work after their maternity leave, due to constraints faced at their workplaces – no proper lactation space, resorting to expressing their breast milk at spaces like storerooms or even toilets. Thus, we hope to raise awareness in facility design by tapping on the imagination of students to see if we can innovate and come up with different ways to address these difficulties. That was how the idea of a design competition was mooted,” Ms Toh Hwee Tin, Director of NTUC U Family explained.
"We are excited to challenge our students to use their creativity to solve a problem faced by working mothers all over the world," said Mrs Pang-Eng Peck Hong, Director of NP’s School of Design & Environment.
About the “Most Innovative Nursing System” Design Contest
Opened to all NP students, 13 submissions were shortlisted for the final judging today. The contest required these students to design a system which meet the following criteria:
Easy to set-up (one man operation)
Portable and lightweight
Ergonomic design and environmentally-friendly
In addition, the system should require no renovation or modification to the workplace, be free from public view and intrusion, comfortable for breastfeeding mothers and have access to power for operating of breast pump.
The submissions were judged by a 3-member panel comprising staff from NP and a representative from NTUC. The winning team walks away with a cash prize of $1,500, while the second and third teams receive cash prizes of $1,000 and $500 respectively.
Announced Collaborative Project with HPB and SNEF – Employer Guide on Breastfeeding Support at Workplaces
At today’s platform, NTUC U Family also announced its collaboration with the Health Promotion Board (HPB) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) to introduce an Employer Guide on Breastfeeding Support at Workplaces under the “Project Liquid Gold” initiative. The tripartite parties are currently working on the guide, targeted for release in the third quarter of 2014.
The Employer Guide will help educate employers on benefits of breastfeeding to mothers and babies, and the types of support required for mothers to continue breastfeeding upon returning to work. Other information includes the benefits to employers or workplaces for having such lactation-friendly arrangements and how employers can take the first steps through successful cases demonstrated by other employers. Useful resources such as the availability of funding for the building of lactation facilities in companies will also be available in the guide.
“We are keen to work with U Family to reach out to employers on good breastfeeding practices at workplaces. Through the employer guide on breastfeeding support, we hope to encourage more workplaces to adopt practices that render greater support for working mothers,” says Mr Zee Yoong Kang, CEO of Health Promotion Board.
“Many working women begin to exit the workforce from around the age of 30 due to family responsibilities and many do not return to the workforce after that. A workplace environment that supports working mothers is crucial to their retention. We hope that together with NTUC and HPB, as well as the employer guide we can reach and encourage more companies to support working mothers,” said Mr Koh Juan Kiat, Executive Director of Singapore National Employers Federation.
“Many employers are actually open to the idea of providing support to their breastfeeding employees, but are unclear on how to do it. We are especially excited to have the strong support from HPB and SNEF to embark on this Employer Guide project. We hope that with the introduction of the guide, it will help employers and employees to take the first step on creating a friendlier workplace for the breastfeeding mummies. We also hope mothers can breastfeed their babies longer when the physical barrier to breastfeeding is reduced,” Ms Toh explained.
Embarking on a multi-pronged approach, building on innovative ways to create nursing systems and introducing an Employer Guide on breastfeeding support at the workplace, NTUC U Family would like to reiterate its call for office building owners and employers to put in place suitable nursing rooms spaces at workplaces that are shielded from view and free from intrusion.
To further aid employers and building owners in doing so, NTUC U Family urges for more assistance to be provided by the relevant authorities, like the extension of nursing room funding to building owners and to consider some flexibility for the guidelines of the Gross Floor Area (GFA) accorded to buildings. Currently, only employers are eligible for co-funding of lactation facilities in the company under the Work-Life Developmental Grant. Many building owners are also faced with the challenge of available floor space in existing buildings that can be used within the guidelines of the GFA.
As a long term vision under the “Project Liquid Gold” initiative, NTUC U Family will continue to engage various stakeholders, create a family-friendly culture at workplaces with supportive employers and employees, in turn creating happier workplaces and more productive workers in the long run.