New parents are increasingly getting most of the support they need from employers, but support for breastfeeding is still low on the priority list.
Health consultancy Peppy found that while almost two-thirds (63%) of UK workplaces now offer support for new parents, only 29% of those surveyed provide support for feeding issues.
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Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy, said feeding issues can be a huge concern for new parents, and many employers don’t understand how to help.
She said: “Employers often struggle to find the right way to support new parents.
“They may send a bouquet of flowers after the birth, which is a lovely gesture, but having support from a paediatric expert will go so much further in helping them settle into this new phase of life and tackle inevitable questions and worries with confidence.”
Arielle Ball, senior international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) at Peppy, added that practical support makes all the difference for new mothers.
She told HR magazine: “When it comes to infant feeding, a good employer will signpost their people towards guidance.
“An exceptional employer will give new parents the tools they need to take control of their mental and physical health during what could well be one of the most challenging periods of their lives.
“A policy written down on paper is one thing, but going the extra mile will help organisations differentiate themselves as a top place to work for new parents.”
HR Most Influential practitioner Baljinder Kang, executive director of corporate resources at housing association Midland Heart, said employers need to remain flexible when building their support package.
Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “It makes business and moral sense to support new parents, especially given the challenges of the labour market currently – but we should not assume all new parents’ support needs will be the same.
“Employers’ policies should be flexible enough to enable managers to agree meaningful support for new parents based on their individual circumstances.”
This week (1 August- 7 August) is World Breastfeeding Week, coordinated by World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.
Vicky Wallis, chief people officer at insurance company Direct Line Group, argued clear parental policies are helpful to both new mothers and line managers.
She told HR magazine that the group launched its own breastfeeding guidelines for managers last year.
Wallis said: “The guideline includes a breastfeeding information pack which offers vital information for mothers about the complexities of breastfeeding as well as links to further resources where more help is available.
“We know that providing our people with the support and resources they need to do their jobs well will deliver better outcomes for the business as well as create a diverse and inclusive culture where people can feel proud of where they work.”