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Topic: Work and parents

breastfeeding arrangements letter
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Breastfeeding arrangements letter

Breastfeeding arrangements letter

Send our letter to an employee returning from maternity leave to confirm the arrangements that you’ve made to support them in breastfeeding their baby after their return to work. The law states that you must provide a place for a nursing mother to rest, but you don’t have to provide facilities for her to breastfeed or express or store milk, although this is recommended by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as good practice.

The law

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 require you to provide somewhere for a breastfeeding employee to rest, and, where necessary, this includes being able to lie down. It doesn’t specifically require you to provide facilities to breastfeed or to express or store milk, nor do you have to grant paid breaks for this purpose. However, the HSE recommends that it's good practice for you to provide a private, healthy and safe environment for breastfeeding mothers to express and store milk. The ladies’ toilets are not a suitable place to express breast milk or breastfeed a baby as there may be a hygiene risk. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you must also assess the workplace health and safety risks posed to expectant and new mothers and their babies from any processes, working conditions or physical, biological or chemical agents and take any measures needed to address those risks. Whilst there’s no legal requirement to conduct a specific, separate risk assessment for breastfeeding employees in particular, it’s good practice to do so as it will enable you to decide if additional action needs to be taken.

Provision of facilities

Our Breastfeeding Arrangements Letter, intended for mothers returning to work from maternity leave, sets out that you’ve put in place appropriate facilities for breastfeeding employees to express and store milk and to rest and it confirms that these facilities will be available to the employee on her return to work. Make sure that any room provided for expressing milk is clean, warm and private and that the fridge for the storage of expressed milk is secure and hygienic. The room could, for example, be an unoccupied office or an area used for meetings that can be discreetly screened. If, however, all you can physically provide are the required rest facilities and you can’t provide an appropriate room or space for expressing milk, amend our letter accordingly. If necessary, discuss this with the employee to see if there’s any alternative facility she could use, such as with a neighbouring employer.

Other considerations

Other matters you might wish to consider addressing are:

  • permitting additional breaks for breastfeeding mothers to express milk - these could be accommodated by a reciprocal agreement from the employee to reduce her lunch break, and any extra breaks granted don’t have to be paid
  • allowing temporary flexible working hours for breastfeeding mothers, such as allowing her to leave work early or to leave for a short time during the working day to breastfeed her baby, say, at a nearby nursery.

We’ve briefly covered these in our letter by asking the employee to get in touch before her return if she wants to discuss temporary minor adjustments to her working hours to specifically enable her to breastfeed her baby or to express milk.

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