Can I continue to breastfeed at work?
The Equality Act 2010 (section 13) confirms that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman less favourably because she is breastfeeding.You should tell your employer in writing that you are breastfeeding, preferably before you go back to work, so that your employer can make suitable plans.
Toilets are not a suitable place for expressing milk. Your employer should provide a private, healthy and safe place for expressing and storing milk, although there is no legal obligation to do this.
Your employer is legally obliged to provide somewhere for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers to rest. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says that where necessary, this should include a place where you can lie down.
The HSE advises that breastfeeding after returning to work can create particular risks depending on the kind of work you do, for example if you:
- work with mercury;
- work with radioactive material; or
- are exposed to lead.
This list is not exhaustive and the HSE recommends that employers should assess these risks in their workplace and take occupational health advice if needed.
The government did not adopt proposed 2013 legislation making breastfeeding/expressing breaks in the workplace a statutory requirement. Instead conciliation service Acas has produced the document Accommodating breastfeeding employees in the workplace explaining best practice and employers’ duties to breastfeeding women at work.