Guide for Breastfeeding in the Workplace - Best Practice
Whilst the legislation in Jersey does not require an employer to provide facilities for breastfeeding/expressing milk it is good practice to do so. The benefits of being able to provide some facility to enable employees to continue to breastfeed once they return to work can encourage employee loyalty and may help with the general wellbeing of the employee. However, there may be a risk of indirect sex discrimination if the employer does not give due consideration to any request or risk a claim for refusing to consider a flexible working request. It is advisable to discuss with an employee their return to work following a period of maternity leave to understand what may be done to assist their return that is both proportionate and reasonable in the provision of facilities, or whether flexible working or additional breaks (without impacting on the business) may be available. Employers would be mindful to consider a request for changes relating to breastfeeding as they would for a temporary change to working hours (under flexible working rights) and give consideration to including such a statement in policies covering maternity and flexible working requests.
Please bear in mind the list below does not imply that a baby can be brought into the workplace.
The following is a list of things for an employer to consider:
- Flexibility - to allow the employee to go home or attend the day care facility if either are close to the workplace, in order to breastfeed the child which may mean allowing some extended breaks under a temporary change to working hours or temporary flexible working. There is no entitlement for the employee to be paid for any additional time.
- Facilities - private and hygienic space which is safe and secure - the ladies/disabled toilet is not an appropriate space for breastfeeding or expressing milk, but think about a meeting room or a quiet area that can be screened off. However if a suitable space cannot be found then the employer may need to decline the request.
- Fridges - many businesses already have fridges in staff refreshment areas, so consideration as to whether expressed milk could be stored securely and hygienically there should be given.
- For how long? - discuss with the employee how long this temporary arrangement will be in place for - this may differ for individual employees, so it is preferable to agree a timescale rather than prescribe one.
As a matter of good employment practice a note should be kept of any discussions and decisions made in respect of the temporary arrangement entered into. If the request is made under the flexible working legislation then do make sure you follow the process set down in the JACS guide to flexible working.
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