Plans to implement designated breastfeeding zones into offices, has been outlined in a radical new health plan by health secretary Andrew Lansley.

He believes that the move could encourage women to return to work sooner after giving birth therefore increase productivity within the workplace.

It has been outlined in the public health paper that employers should provide special facilities for mothers at work, including special rooms and fridges to store expressed breast milk. The paper also encourages private sector employers to be more flexible with breaks to give mothers time to breast feed their children or express breast milk while at work.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley (pictured) said the government was preparing interventions intended to reduce health inequality.

Former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, however, said that this was not the approach which she expected from a Conservative-led Government. “I could absolutely weep,” she said. “Now we have got the state actually saying to employers in a time of recession you must provide paid breaks, paid facilities, a special fridge for expressed milk and goodness knows what else for women returning to work who have decided, on their responsibility presumably, to have a child.

Annabel Latto, director of Edinburgh-based Working for Parents, a recruitment company that specialises in flexible professional employment opportunities for parents, said the move could increase productivity.

“For women in management positions this would be particularly helpful,” said Ms Latto. “It provides a motivation for them to return to the work place and to feel comfortable at work.

Some feel that this is a radical ploy to get women back to work sooner, not taking into consideration the time needed for nurture and bonding. However the plans can be seen as a step forward for equality campaigners, governments have highlighted the importance of women in the workplace and have put pressure on organisations to do everything in their power to facilitation the needs of working mothers.