As a strong advocate of breastfeeding, and a proud breastfeeding Mother myself, who was lucky enough to feed my son for over 3 months after returning to work, my opinions on this topic may seem somewhat biased! However, I am delighted to report that a ‘ground breaking’ tribunal ruling (as described by trade union, Unite) last month happened to agree with my views exactly!!
They have successfully managed to quash any suggestion that new mothers might have to give up breastfeeding their child to fit in with their employers’ needs, when they ruled that easyJet discriminated against two of their employees by failing to offer them ground duties or shorter shifts to allow them to express milk.
Although no legislative changes have been made, let this be a reiteration of your duties as an employer, and a guidance as to how the law may be interpreted in future cases!
Legislation may not state that you have to have a specific policy on this topic, nor that you must accept every request under the sun for a breastfeeding mother, however this ruling definitely does suggest that covering this issue within your Handbook or similar, is a sensible way to objectively discuss this matter should it arrive, and also that best practice is certainly to make adjustments, where possible, to allow mothers to continue to feed their babies upon their return to work.
This shouldn’t be viewed as just another burden to your life as an employer, and should by no means be met with negativity, after all, as NHS guidance suggests, it is actually very likely to be beneficial to your business – not only as it promotes loyalty and staff morale (meaning you have a happier workforce and no unnecessary recruitment/training costs), but it may also reduce absence (as breastfed babies are generally healthier AND health problems such as mastitis may be avoided by the Mother). A win-win-win for businesses, mothers and happy little healthy bundles of joy alike!!
And, HR180 are proof of this in practice, having helped not just me, but also a colleague of mine, by bending over backwards to provide the space and time to express on our return to work after maternity leave. With a combined length of service of 9 and a half years, and just one sick day between us in the last year I’d say we’re pretty happy and committed employees!
The HR180 heroes can put you on the right path with anything from sorting out your Handbook to being right beside you looking at how you can grow your business at the same time as growing your people! Call us for a coffee and a chat: 0113 287 8150.
Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.