UK Breastfeeding Laws

Employee Breastfeeding Laws

There are many good reasons to continue breastfeeding after returning to work but for the times you are separated from your baby, will you be able to pump at work? A fourteen page 2013 document Accommodating Breastfeeding in the Workplace from ACAS1 talks you through UK law, good practice, frequently asked questions and more including:

  • An employer must provide somewhere for breastfeeding employees to rest and lie down2
  • It’s good practice but not a legal requirement to conduct a special risk assessment for a breastfeeding employee who is returning to work
  • The Health and Safety Executive website is a good place for further guidance on health and safety law
  • A breach of Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations may be unlawful discrimination under the Equality Act 2010
  • The law doesn’t require an employer to give paid breastfeeding or expressing breaks
  • The law doesn’t require an employer to provide facilities to breastfeed or express milk however a breastfeeding employee can ask for a safe, private area to express milk in comfort and not in a toilet or sick room which is a hygiene risk.

Breastfeeding in Public

Maternity Action3 has an information sheet regarding breastfeeding in public places in UK and where to go for help if you feel you have been discriminated against. Breastfeeding in public places is protected under the Equality Act 2010 for as long as you wish to breastfeed your baby, toddler or small child without an age restriction. Protection covers any public space from parks and leisure facilities to public buildings and using public transport. You’re also protected in shops, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, theatres and cinemas.

The new Equality Act says that it is sex discrimination to treat a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding. It applies to anyone providing services, benefits, facilities and premises to the public, public bodies, further and higher education bodies and association. Service providers include most organisations that deal directly with the public. Service providers must not discriminate, harass or victimise a woman because she is breastfeeding. Discrimination includes refusing to provide a service, providing a lower standard of service or providing a service on different terms. Therefore, a cafe owner cannot ask you to stop breastfeeding or refuse to serve you.

If you are discriminated against you can make a complaint to the organisation who has discriminated against you and if it can’t be resolved to your satisfaction you can bring an action in a county court in England and Wales or a sheriffs court in Scotland.

breastfeeding a baby in public open space

What About in Scotland?

The Scottish law relating to breastfeeding in public is slightly different to the rest of UK Breastfeeding Laws:

In Scotland a person has a right to breastfeed or bottle feed a child under two and it is a criminal offence to try to stop or to prevent a woman from feeding a child under two in any place in which the public has access and in which a child under two is entitled to be. Anyone who tries to stop or prevent a person feeding milk to a child under the age of two can be prosecuted and can face a claim under the Equality Act.

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