The Law, Working And Breastfeeding
Many mums are unaware that the law protects working
The law states that breastfeeding women must not be put at any risk and if this is impossible then employers must either:
· change a woman’s work hours or
· offer alternative work at the same wage or
· suspend her on paid leave for the duration of her breastfeeding
The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers to provide a private, healthy and safe environment in which to express and store milk although this is not legally required.
Breastfeeding women are also protected by sex discrimination laws.
Breastfeeding mothers are allowed breastfeeding breaks. They can return home if they live only a short distance away from work. Or they can express milk privately and store it for later. The breaks need to be agreed between employer and employee. Breaks should be about 20 minutes long and vary between one and four breaks in an average working day.
The number of breaks will depend on the age of the baby. Younger babies will need more feeds than older babies; their tummies are tiny and cannot hold very much milk.
Breastfeeding mothers should have access to a private, clean, warm room (not the toilets). The room should have a clean work surface on which to place sterilising equipment and a breast pump, if required. A comfortable, supportive chair should also be available. There should be an electrical socket, a sink and a fridge or cool bag for storing expressed milk at 2-4 degrees centigrade.
By enabling breastfeeding mothers to continue breastfeeding
when they return to work organisations can benefit. They will be less likely
to have to replace staff. So they will save money on recruitment, retraining
and the expenses involved in recruiting temporary staff.
Also, since breastfed babies are less likely to be ill employees will not need to take so much time off to care for them.
Supportive firms gain respect from their staff and become more attractive to potential employees.
The result: more productivity and a happy workforce.
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