Employers must be proactive on breastfeeding

Employers that fail to provide facilities for breastfeeding risk breaking
the law according to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC).

EOC chair Julie Mellor said it was important that employers understood their
legal responsibilities towards women who choose to continue to breastfeed when
they return to work. This follows last week’s Government’s recommendation that
women should breastfeed for the first six months.

"Many women who choose to continue breastfeeding face problems at work
because of a lack of flexibility from employers," said Mellor. "Some
women have even been forced to resign or have been dismissed.

"There are various forms of practical support employers can offer women
to help them continue breastfeeding after they return to work. The employer
will then fulfil their legal obligations, while also ensuring they don’t lose
valuable members of staff at the end of their maternity leave."

The EOC’s advice (above) follows its decision to launch an investigation
into workplace discrimination against pregnant women after widespread reports
of discriminatory behaviour.

EOC advice on how to treat breastfeeding women

– Allow rest periods and access to a private room

– Provide access to a refrigerator

– Allow rest periods and a private room for breastfeeding if there is a
workplace nursery

– Ensure there are no health and safety risks that could affect her or the

– Allow for the recommendation that babies should be breastfed for at least
six months

– Do not ban her from returning to work because she is breastfeeding

– Do not refuse to accommodate breastfeeding

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