In April 2018 Parliament introduced new legislation that aims to promote and support breastfeeding in the workplace and enhance the legal protection for working pregnant women and new mothers.

On April 16 2018 the Protection and Promotion of Maternal Breastfeeding Law (21(I)/2018) was introduced, which established the minister of health as the competent authority for the promotion and protection of breastfeeding. The law also created a national committee, which is responsible for providing the competent authority with guidance and support and for the preparation of regulations for the implementation of the law (that will eventually be approved and issued by the Council of Ministers).

In addition, on April 16 2018 another law was introduced (20(I)/2018), which amends the basic legislation for the protection of motherhood in the workplace (the Protection of Motherhood Law 100(I)/1997). This amendment extends the period during which pregnant women are protected against dismissal from three to five months after the end of maternity leave and establishes the right for working mothers to breastfeed or pump and store milk in the workplace (during the one-hour break to which they are entitled for breastfeeding or childcare purposes, under Article 5, Paragraph 1 of the law).

The law also establishes that it is the employer's responsibility to provide its employees with appropriate accommodation for breastfeeding or for pumping and storing milk in accordance with Law 21(Ι)/2018. Finally, the law introduces more stringent penalties for employers that violate any provision of the law. Employers found to be in violation will be faced with a fine of up to €7,000 for a first violation and up to €8,000 for any further violation occurring within two years from the day on which the previous violation occurred.

Following the introduction of the new legislation, Cypriot employers should be careful and if requested provide their employees with the necessary accommodation for breastfeeding or pumping and storing breast milk in the workplace (eg, an appropriate area for breastfeeding or pumping and a refrigerator for breast milk storage). Employers should evaluate their employees' requests regarding the facilitation of breastfeeding and explore options to accommodate their needs.

For further information on this topic please contact Nicos Panayiotou at George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC by telephone (+357 22 763 340) or email (nicos.panayiotou@gzg.com.cy). The George Z Georgiou & Associates LLC website can be accessed at www.gzg.com.cy.

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