Sleep-deprived mothers upset over draft policy to cut extra break time

By Hoang Phuong   January 10, 2017 | 01:56 am PT
Sleep-deprived mothers upset over draft policy to cut extra break time
Labourers work at a garment factory in Hung Yen province, outside Hanoi January 5, 2017. Photo by Reuters
The revised law would cut the time mothers have to care for their new-borns.

Breastfeeding mothers have hit back at a proposed amendment to the Labor Law that would deny them an hour off to feed their babies and rest during the day.

Tran Thu Quynh, an office worker in Hanoi, said she was disappointed by the policy-makers's latest move to scrap the 60 minute break for female workers with babies of under 12 months old they are currently entitled to each day.

The mother of an 8-month-old baby said her company has a fingerprint scanner to keep a record of work attendance and punctuality. Without the 60-minute break, she would be stressed out trying to arrive at the office on time, she said.

Le Thi Hoa, 26-year-old worker at a garment factory in Hanoi, said she could risk becoming physically exhausted unless the company allowed her a break to take a brief nap.

“I have to breastfeed my baby several times during the night,” Hoa said. “I would be happy with even a 15-minute daytime nap, let alone 60 minutes.”

The reason for offering female workers with babies under a year old a daily 60-minute break is to encourage them to breasfeed until their child turns two, said Dang Quang Dieu, a senior official from the national trade union.

Some argue that under Vietnamese law, a new mother is allowed to take six months off work following the birth of her baby, so there is no need for the extra break time.

The trade union official denied the argument, saying that child care services and working conditions in other countries are much better than in Vietnam.

Pham Xuan Hong, chairman of the Garment and Textile Association said it is necessary to offer the extra break in the first year after a baby is born so employees can have the flexibility to take care of their babies without worrying too much about work.

“It is about productivity and efficiency, not about working longer hours. The physical and mental health of our workers is also very important,” said Hong. “More work shifts would leave workers less time to take care of their babies, and the plan might eventually backfire.”

The revised Labor Law of 2012 was positively welcomed and gives a pregnant employee the right to take six months paid maternity leave.

The latest revision, which will be put forward for parliamentary approval in April, has received mixed opinions.

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