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Tuesday 28 January 2020

New mother says employer's failure to facilitate breastfeeding is 'shameful'

File Photo: Getty Images
File Photo: Getty Images

Gordon Deegan

A new mother has described as "shameful" her employer's failure to grant her a work transfer to facilitate her breastfeeding her prematurely born baby.

In the case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the paramedic was seeking an order granting her a transfer to be near her home to allow her breastfeed her baby boy.

The mother's journey to her workplace is a round trip of 290km, which takes her approximately four hours and 20 minutes each day.

The un-named woman told the WRC hearing that the treatment by her unidentified employer "is shameful and unfair".

"It paints a picture of a male-dominated workplace that shows little or no regard for the welfare of their post- pregnancy employees or their newborn children," she added.

The woman told the hearing she was upset and shocked by her employer's handling of her situation and that her employer denied her fair process by taking almost seven months to deal with her grievance.

The woman gave birth to her son prematurely on December 30, 2014. On advice from her doctors that it was in the best interests of her child's health and well-being she decided to breastfeed her child.


The woman intends to breastfeed her child until he is two-years-old and made her request to transfer three months before she was due back to work at the end of June last year.

However, the woman hasn't returned to work since going on maternity leave in December 2014, after going on sick leave last November due to stress from the dispute.

She remains on sick leave and her employer says it is very anxious to get her back to work.

The woman had been employed by her present employer since 1999.

She initially worked as a clerical officer close to her home, before becoming a paramedic in 2008.

The adjudication officer at the WRC, Seán Reilly, has ordered the woman's employer pay her €2,500 for the undue delay in dealing with the matter.

Mr Reilly said that the delay was unreasonable and unfair to the woman and caused her stress. However, Mr Reilly said that he could not recommend granting the paramedic a transfer to her own area as no vacancy currently exists.

Mr Reilly wrote: "In circumstances where there is no available position, vacancy or work available in the area to which the complainant seeks to transfer it is not feasible or possible for me to recommend that she be so transferred and I must reject that element of the claim."

Mr Reilly said that he recommended the woman accept her place on the transfer panel on the same basis as any other employee.

Irish Independent

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