Breastfeeding and work

A short summary of rights and opportunities

Breast feeding roomThe Maternity Protection (Amendment) Act 2004 sets out the entitlements of women in employment who are breast feeding. It was brought into effect by SI 654 of 2004 Maternity Protection (Protection of Mothers who are Breastfeeding) Regulations 2004.

Who is covered?

All women in employment who have given birth within the previous 6 months are covered under the legislation.


How much notice must be given?

The employer must be notified in writing by the mother of her intention to breastfeed at work at least 4 weeks before the intended date of return to work from Maternity leave.

An employer can require a birth certificate, to confirm the date of birth of the child.

What are the entitlements?

All women who have given birth within the previous 6 months are entitled to take time off work each day in order to breastfeed.

The employer is not obliged to provide facilities where to do so would give rise to considerable costs.

Depending on which option the employer can offer, the working mother can choose to:

  • Breastfeed or express breast milk, where facilities are provided in the workplace

  • Have their working hours reduced by one hour (with pay) per day as a breastfeeding break, where facilities are not provided by the employer.

    This may be taken as

  • One 60 minute break

  • Two 30 minute breaks

  • Three 20 minute breaks

Part-time workers are entitled to breaks on a pro-rata basis.

Longer or more frequent breaks may be taken by agreement with the employer

Where can I get more information?

  The HSE Guide for Employers, Employees and Co-workers, Breastfeeding and Work, Download here

See also Maternity leave

See also Health and Safety leave

See also Parental leave

See also Paid Paternity leave

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Image courtesy Diane Bales , cc.15


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