Appendix 01: Maternity Protections in the UK
The UK as a whole has not ratified the ILO Maternity Protection Convention C183 and whilst protections exist under the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, these are more strongly geared towards pregnancy and are not explicit in their support or protection of breastfeeding, through breaks at work for example. There is, however, some legal protection under Health and Safety protection and sex discrimination laws, offering health and safety protection, including assessment of risks; employers are also required to provide somewhere for a breastfeeding employee to rest and this includes being able to lie down (The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992) but not alternative work at same wage. The Equality Act 2010 also qualifies a failure to assess or take action on health and safety risks for a breastfeeding woman where the work could have risks with series consequences for mother or child as sex discrimination. Indirectly, an employer could also be discriminating on the basis of sex if they refuse a request for flexible working from a breastfeeding mother without good business reasons which subsequently results in her stopping breastfeeding.
Despite this, there is evidence of employers refusing to make reasonable adjustments to ensure women's and babies' health is not placed at risk, and high rates of redundancies among new mothers in the workplace during pregnancy, maternity leave or return to work. A successful case was brought against EasyJet in 2016: EasyJet had initially stated that they were unable to provide ground duties for two cabin crew members who were breastfeeding despite providing such adjustments for other employees due to health conditions. The case focused on the health implications of this refusal with the tribunal finding on behalf of the two cabin crew employees, and stating "if breastfeeding mothers are not given the opportunity to express breast milk this can lead to an increased instance of mastitis, milk stasis and engorgement". Such cases suggest a fundamental disconnect between the spirit of the welfare regulations and their interpretation.
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