New legislation in Cyprus enhances the rights of pregnant women and nursing and new mothers in the workplace. This article provides details of the new provisions and their impact on employers.

By: Nicos Panayiotou

Firm: George Z. Georgiou & Associates LLC 

On 16 April 2018 the Cypriot Parliament introduced Law 20(I)/2018, Law for the Protection and Promotion of Maternal Breastfeeding (the ‘Law’), amending the basic legislation on the protection given to pregnant women and new and breastfeeding mothers (Law 100(I)/97).

Specifically, the Law introduced the following changes:

Protection from dismissal during pregnancy and early motherhood

The end of the protective period for pregnant women and new mothers was extended from three months to five months after the end of maternity leave. This means the protection offered by the Law regarding dismissals of pregnant women or new mothers commences at the beginning of the pregnancy and ends five months after the end of maternity leave.

Protection, promotion and support of maternal breastfeeding

Right to breastfeed

The Law establishes working mothers’ right 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 the provisions of article 5 para. 1 of the Law).

Employer’s responsibilities

The Law establishes that the employer is responsible for providing employees with an appropriate place for breastfeeding or for pumping and storing milk in accordance with the provisions set out in it. The new Law also establishes:

  • a competent authority for the promotion and protection of maternal breastfeeding (this can be the Minister of Health of any other person duly authorised by the Minister);
  • a National Committee, responsible for providing the competent authority with guidance and support and for the preparing Regulations for the implementation of the Law (that will eventually be approved and issued by the Council of Ministers).

Penalties

The Law also introduces stricter penalties for employers that violate any of its provisions. Employers now face a fine of up to EUR 7,000 for the first violation, and up to EUR 8,000 for any further violation occurring within two years from the day the previous violation occurred.

Impact on employers

In view of the new provisions set out above, it is clear that employers in Cyprus should now be very careful and if requested, provide their employees with all the facilities necessary for breastfeeding or for pumping and storing breast milk in the workplace (such as provision of an appropriate area for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk or of a refrigerator for breast milk storage). Employers should also always consider employees’ requests regarding the facilitation of maternal breastfeeding and, in communication with them, explore options to accommodate their needs.