Managing return to work | Health and Safety - breastfeeding

After an employee gives you written notice that she is breastfeeding you should consider any risks identified by the workplace risk assessment and take reasonable action to reduce or remove any risks. Less favourable treatment of a woman because she is breastfeeding may be sex discrimination.  A refusal to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate breastfeeding may be indirect sex discrimination if the refusal cannot be justified.

Common risks for breastfeeding mothers are working with organic mercury, radioactive material and exposure to lead. If you are in doubt you can contact the Health and Safety Executive. 

You should:

  • First consider whether it is possible to remove the risk by, for example altering the employee’s working conditions or hours of work.
  • Second, if this does not remove the risk, offer her suitable alternative work.
  • Third, if there is no suitable alternative work, you must suspend her on full pay.

No, there is no legal right to time off to breastfeed or for rest periods. However, a refusal to adapt working hours could be indirect sex discrimination unless you can show the refusal is justified by the needs of the business

Yes, you should provide suitable facilities for breastfeeding mothers to rest. //

Last updated: 13 May 2016