Here’s How to Support Breastfeeding Employees at Work

  • Employee wellbeing
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Kiran Virk

Kiran Virk, Head of Talent Acquisition

(Last updated )

For World Breastfeeding Week 2021 (August 1-7), Peninsula surveyed 48,973 employers across four countries – Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the UK.

The purpose of the survey was to find out if employers were doing enough to support breastfeeding staff at work.

How did we do in the global survey?

Canadian employers emerged as one of the most forward-thinking in their attitude towards breastfeeding in the workplace. (Canada scored an 8 in response to the question.)

But there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Just 21% of Canadian workplaces surveyed have a designated space in the office for staff to breastfeed.

While 91% of Canadian businesses considered themselves to be an inclusive workplace, only 26% said they were looking to further support breastfeeding employees.

Many businesses said they either didn’t have any current staff who were nursing or that they would give this matter a thought when such a need arose.

Do I have to make accommodations for breastfeeding employees?

It is good practice to provide breastfeeding employees with suitable support.

Like any employee returning to work after a long leave of absence, returning mothers, too, need support to make a successful (and stress-free) transition back to work.

Supporting breastfeeding workers will also help you build a positive company culture. A company that cares for and supports staff during personal milestones sees increased staff loyalty and reduced turnover.

What things should I keep in mind when accommodating breastfeeding employees?

We recommend that you:

  • Speak to your employees and offer support if they plan to breastfeed or express milk during work hours. Understand their needs, concerns and answer any questions they may have.
  • Train your managers on handling such sensitive conversations. Or ask the employees if they would be more comfortable discussing the matter with a female member of management or HR.
  • Check with breastfeeding employees about the provisions and facilities they may need at work.
  • Provide breastfeeding employees with a space that allows for privacy and is hygienic. Washrooms, work desks, or the employee’s vehicle are not appropriate places for breastfeeding or expressing milk.
  • Consider accommodating breastfeeding staff with a storage facility for expressed milk. You can either offer a separate fridge area or set aside a hygienic space in a communal fridge such as a separate sealable container.

Do you have questions related to HR and employee management?

Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.

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