NHS Scotland Once for Scotland workforce policies - work-life balance: consultation

The NHSScotland 'Once for Scotland' Workforce policies programme is designed to review and transform existing workforce policies (previously known as Partnership Information Network (PIN) Policies). This consultation focuses on the refreshed supporting the work-life balance suite of policies.

9. Breastfeeding Policy

9.1. Aim

9.1.1. This policy aims to:

  • support and encourage employees who wish to continue to breastfeed in the workplace
  • support employees to express human milk in the workplace, including milk to be donated

9.2. Scope

9.2.1. This policy applies to all employees who are:

  • breastfeeding or chestfeeding
  • producing milk for a baby

9.2.2. NHSScotland recognises that breastfeeding does not exclusively apply to employees who identify as women. For some, descriptors such as chestfeeding may be more appropriate, and in such cases this policy applies.

9.2.3. It also applies to workers including bank, agency, and sessional workers. References to employees should be taken to apply to such workers unless otherwise stated.

9.2.4. This policy complies with current legislation and meets the aims of the Public Sector Equality Duty of the Equality Act 2010

9.3. Definitions

9.3.1. Donated human milk is when an employee expresses milk for a baby not within their own household.

9.3.2. Expressing milk means extracting milk from the breast so it can be stored or fed to a baby. Mothers and birthing parents can express milk by hand or using an electric or manual pump.

9.4. Roles and responsibilities

9.4.1. There is a range of standard expectations which underpin all policies. Read more about standard roles and responsibilities. In addition, the following specific responsibilities apply to this policy.

9.4.2. Employer

9.4.3. The employer should create a positive culture supporting breastfeeding in the workplace. They should also:

  • make supportive and flexible arrangements so employees can breastfeed
  • provide suitable facilities for breastfeeding mothers to rest
  • provide adequate rest and meal breaks
  • provide appropriate facilities so employees can express human milk and store it
  • raise awareness of facilities available across the organisation

9.4.4. Manager

9.4.5. The manager should promote a supportive culture for breastfeeding in the workplace.

9.4.6. Before the employee starts maternity leave, the manager should make sure the employee is aware of the facilities and support available at work for:

  • breastfeeding
  • expressing and storing human milk

9.4.7. When the employee returns to work from maternity leave, the manager should:

  • complete a Maternity risk assessment [risk assessment to be undertaken by the manager]
  • advise the employee on the supportive and flexible arrangements for breastfeeding
  • inform the employee about the facilities available for expressing milk and its safe storage in the workplace
  • make sure time for breastfeeding and expressing milk is protected and undisturbed
  • regularly review the arrangement to make sure it meets the needs of the employee and the service

9.4.8. Employee

9.4.9. The employee should

  • consider what their needs may be to support breastfeeding on their return to work for discussion with their manager
  • regularly review the arrangement with their manager to make sure it meets their needs and the needs of the service

9.5. Procedure

9.5.1. Preparing to return to work

9.5.2. Employees should meet their manager at least 4 weeks before their planned return or start date. At the meeting, they must discuss working arrangements that allow the individual to continue breastfeeding and to express and safely store human milk.

9.5.3. Risk assessment

9.5.4. On the employee's return to work or when they start work, the manager should complete a Maternity risk assessment [risk assessment to be undertaken by the manager]. It includes a section for employees currently breastfeeding and expressing milk.

9.5.5. The risk assessment will include identifying the location of breastfeeding facilities and identify other health and safety considerations, for example, lone working and night work.

9.5.6. If the employee's risk assessment or an appropriate health professional confirms that the employee's normal duties would prevent them from safely breastfeeding or expressing milk, the manager should first consider:

  • making reasonable alterations to the employee's working conditions (including hours) to remove the relevant risk
  • if changes cannot be reasonably made, then temporary redeployment, with the consent of the employee, should be considered

9.5.7. Where temporary redeployment is not possible, the employee should be placed on leave and paid as if at work for as long as is necessary to avoid the risks to the employee's health and safety.

9.5.8. Time for breastfeeding

9.5.9. The manager and employee should discuss and agree a plan for the time required for breastfeeding or expressing milk. There may be occasions when additional time is needed. The manager and employee should be flexible when creating the plan, to make sure it meets both the individual's needs and the needs of the service.

9.5.10. Facilities

9.5.11. The following facilities for breastfeeding mothers and birthing parents are recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.

9.5.12. Areas for rest and expressing milk should be clean and warm with:

  • a low comfortable chair and the facility to lie down
  • a lock or an arrangement to ensure privacy
  • handwashing facilities nearby
  • an electric point for an electric pump

9.5.13. Facilities for storing human milk must provide:

  • a clean area to store sterilising equipment
  • dedicated space for storing expressed milk at 2–4°C until the employee takes it home

9.5.14. Resolution of disagreements

9.5.15. Should a disagreement arise, the employee has the right to raise matters under the Grievance Policy. It may be appropriate for either party to seek advice on resolving the matter from HR colleagues or a trade union representative through early resolution wherever possible.

9.5.16. Related policies:

  • Maternity Policy

9.6. Supporting documentation

It is proposed that the supporting documents listed below will be developed to support the policy. Supporting documents are not part of the consultation. These will be drafted following the consultation when responses have been analysed and the policy is developed in a final draft.

Employee guide

Descriptor: guide to help employees use and understand the Breastfeeding Policy.

Manager guide

Descriptor: guide to help managers use and understand the Breastfeeding Policy.

Breastfeeding policy flowchart

Descriptor: visual and text alternative flowcharts outlining the key steps in the Breastfeeding Policy.

Maternity risk assessment

Descriptor: risk assessment to be undertaken by the manager. This covers (1) on notification of pregnancy, (2) return to work within 6 months of having a baby and (3) breastfeeding.

9.7. Consultation questions

We are inviting responses to this consultation using the Scottish Government's consultation hub. The following questions are set.

In your response, all questions have the option to answer yes or no. You are invited to provide further comment in a free text box. If you wish to make specific reference to a section of the policy, please quote the relevant numbered line in this consultation document.

1. Do you feel there are any gaps in the policy?

2. Do you feel there are any gaps in the proposed list of supporting documents?

3. Do you have any other comments to make on the policy?

4. Do you have any views on the potential impacts of this policy on equalities groups?

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation. These are protected characteristics under the Equality Act, 2010.



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