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How your workplace can support you – Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace accreditation

If you are planning to return to work, you may be wondering how your workplace will be able to accommodate your need to express or breastfeed at work. 

You may not have discussed your needs prior to taking maternity leave. You might be feeling unsure of the conversation with HR or your direct manager. This is normal. We can help. 

The two most common areas of concern for women wishing to negotiate breastfeeding support in the workplace are: 

  • what they are entitled to 

  • how to raise the issue with their employer 

Your rights at work - approaching your employer   

It is generally against the law to refuse to make arrangements for you to breastfeed at work, if these are reasonable. Download our factsheet Breastfeeding & Work: Your rights at work (below). 

The first step before you return to work would be to discuss your individual needs with your manager or Human Resources Department. You can find out what they have in place to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding employees. For more information about approaching your employer, download the factsheet Breastfeeding & Work: Approaching your employer (below)

While many employers would like to provide breastfeeding support, they are often unsure how to do it. Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace (BFW) accreditation enables them to offer this vital support quickly and simply. Workplaces are most likely to adopt breastfeeding friendly practices when their own employees approach them about it. 

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplaces

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace (BFW) accreditation is awarded by ABA to organisations that provide 3 simple criteria to support their breastfeeding employees.  

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace - An Australian Breastfeeding Association Initiative

Combining breastfeeding and work

Together these three elements demonstrate to new and existing employees that their workplace and employer is supportive of their potential needs as a breastfeeding employee.

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A private, comfortable space to breastfeed or express breastmilk. This is the first requirement to becoming a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace.

Depending on the size of your workplace, the space could be a dedicated breastfeeding/expressing room or a shared with a first aid room/prayer room or meeting room. Smaller work sites or those with a small number of staff may not have a space available at all times. However, they should have a plan for how a space would be provided if needed. 

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Time during the working day to breastfeed or express.

Your needs as a breastfeeding employee are usually short-term. The second requirement is a Breastfeeding Policy that clearly outlines support for lactation breaks to allow you time to feed or express.  

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Supportive Culture

Support from your employer and colleagues. A clear communication strategy and other workplace initiatives will back up the Breastfeeding Policy. Communication is key to building a supportive workplace culture.  

Talk to your employer about Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace accreditation  

When you discuss your plans for returning to work, you can direct your employer or HR personnel to the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace pages. There they will find the information and resources they need to put in place to demonstrate their support for you as you return to work.

They can start the process of becoming an employer of choice as an accredited Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace. 

View mother's stories from accredited Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace organisations 

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