One in three breastfeeding workers have expressed milk in staff toilets

One in three breastfeeding workers have expressed milk in staff toilets

A third of breastfeeding workers have been forced to use staff toilets to express milk. Image: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Thursday, February 21, 2019

One in three breastfeeding mothers have been forced to use a toilet when they express milk after returning to work, according to a survey.

Of the 2,000 mothers asked, more than half said they have had to express in an unsuitable place, including the staff room, their car or their desk and highlighted a lack of workplace support after having a baby.

Current law states that breastfeeding staff should have a place to rest, but there is no requirement for workers to have paid breaks to express milk or feed their baby.

Paula Chan, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon who conducted the survey says the employment law is “inadequate”.



She told talkRADIO’s Julia Bradbury: “The law is inadequate. Having a place to rest is helpful but that is not enough to help someone successfully breastfeed and work.

“The law also requires employers to carry out risk assessments but again we really want to be seeing the law saying that employers need to provide a private room for a woman to breastfeed or express in if she needs to.

“She also needs a secure fridge in which she can store her milk, which is not a communal fridge that everyone else uses.”

She added: “I think many people would be appalled to hear that some women feel they don’t have a choice but to express milk in the toilet.”


'Empower women' 

Ms Chan said employers need to be more proactive but many “don’t know what employees need”.

“It is not that they don’t want to help them but they don’t know how to,” she added.

“People who have not breastfed won’t necessarily understand how difficult it is or what accommodation you might need to put in place.

“I think if employers are starting the conversation then that is really going to empower women to ask for what they need.”