Breastfeeding mothers reporting back to work were forced by employers to express milk inside office toilets or car parks. Those who were uncomfortable to do this or those not allowed to leave a task or do breastfeeding break at work were left with the choice to have their precious milk leaked.
This was found through a national inquiry submitted by Australian Industry Group to the Human Rights Commission's pregnancy and return to work national review.
According to Union NSW, this was a breach to the rights of mothers as they were not provided appropriate lactation rooms.
''When another union member requested a break to express milk she was told that she needed to wait until another staff member could relieve her before she could leave her desk. The member was forced to wait a considerable time causing her milk to leak and increasing her risk of mastitis," as written to the submitted paper to the Human Rights Commission.
The submission also put emphasis that blue-collar jobs found it more challenging to deal with the needs of breasfeeding employees.
"The main reasons for this are that flexible working hours are more easily accommodated and options such as job-share or working from home are more accessible to both the employer and employee. Nonetheless, some smaller employers...find it challenging to accommodate requests for part-time work in circumstances where the employee, prior to parental leave, was employed on a full-time basis. Many of these employers report that, despite their best efforts, the requests could not be accommodated, or were very difficult to accommodate, because of the direct and indirect costs for the employers in recruiting a new employee....," as written in the submitted paper.
Reports, compiled by Jenny Singleton of the NSW Public Service Association, revealed the plight of those mothers who were deprived of the chance to express milk within their workplace saying co-employees viewed it as "gross when women express milk."
''Management didn't do anything about it and she was too afraid to take it further because she didn't want to risk losing her flexible working conditions,'' Singleton said.
Unions NSW called for extended parental leave and flexible working arrangements rights to be reinforced under the Fair Work Act.
''These appeal rights should provide employees with access to the Fair Work Commission for conciliation and arbitration,'' the submission said.
Other discrimination suffered by mothers at work were missing the chance to be promoted while pregnant, chance for training and development and being denied the right for flexible working conditions when returning after work. Some mothers decided to resign from jobs because of unpaid leaves and flexible options of returning back to work.
To contact the editor, e-mail: