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12 Months of 2023: August

As we reach the end of the year, our 12 days of Christmas countdown revisits the key events of each month.

In August, the World Health Organization published guidance on breastfeeding at work, Wilko went into administration and return to office mandates were found to be largely unsuccessful.

Breastfeeding at work recommendations published by WHO

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a joint statement emphasising the need for greater breastfeeding support at work during World Breastfeeding Week (1-7 August 2023).

The statement said breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for children as it boosts their immune systems and provides key nutrients for development.

It celebrated a leap from 10% to 48% globally in the number of children who were exclusively breastfed in the past decade.

However, it emphasised that supportive workplaces are the key to achieving the global 2030 target of 70% of children being breastfed.

The organisations suggested policies such as paid maternity leave, breastfeeding breaks, and a room where mothers can breastfeed or express milk. 


Wilko goes into administration with 12,000 jobs at risk

Highstreet retailer Wilko collapsed into administration leaving 12,000 staff with uncertain futures.

The chain was left with £625 million in debt and a £50 million pension black hole.

Nadine Houghton, a national officer of the GMB, blamed “weak leadership and a failure to adapt to the changing market” for the loss of jobs. 


Return-to-office mandates are failing worldwide, study finds

Workers came in on average 1.4 days a week at companies that require office attendance twice a week, the same figure as those with no obligation to attend, according to a study from workplace consultancy AWA.

Gemma Dale, business lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, said employees were resisting arbitrary office working.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We know that the demand for remote and hybrid work has been sustained. People want it, are prepared to move jobs for it and have built their lives and budgets around it. The latter being especially important in the current economic climate. 

“People will continue to resist demands to return to the office that conflict with their preferences, and importantly when they cannot see the benefits to them or how they do their work. 

“Too many return to office attempts can seem to lack logic or clear rationales.”


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