Employers are being reminded about their obligations towards employees who are breastfeeding.
It comes as the UK is set to make it a crime to take photographs of breastfeeding mothers in public without their consent. One of Jersey’s HR experts said while it’s not currently illegal here, it could ignite the debate further about privacy in public places and at work.
What are the workplace requirements?
- Employers must make reasonable adjustments to support breastfeeding mothers, or those who express breastmilk.
- This should include providing access to an appropriate and hygienic area to feed or express, or allowing the employee to take paid breaks to go off site to such an area. This does not include toilets.
- It might also include varying the hours during which the employee is required to work.
What can employers do?
One reasonable adjustment is to provide a dedicated fridge to store expressed milk.
Talk to those who are impacted and find out what their needs are, rather than second-guessing the best options.
If providing a separate room is not possible for cost/practical reasons, then screening off a suitable area could be considered, but it must provide privacy.
Becky Hill, CEO, HR Now, said: “The right to an appropriate area is closely tied to the right to privacy. Simply expecting staff to feed or express in a toilet, is not good enough.
“Opening dialogue with your staff is critical because some mothers will choose to feed their babies well beyond the first few months or even beyond year one or two. Providing family-friendly facilities, privacy, and security, are essential in ensuring that you take care of your staff.
“The public debate over the UK’s new law is likely to bring these issues to the forefront once more.”