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Become a Breastfeeding Friendly Business

As part of the Breastfeeding Peer Support Service we help businesses to make their premises friendly to breastfeeding mums. If you work in a local business, here is some information to guide and help you to achieve this aim.

What is breastfeeding friendly?

Nottingham City Council and Nottingham CityCare Partnership actively encourage businesses and venues within Nottingham City to sign up to being ‘Breastfeeding Friendly’ as part of action to provide a more welcoming and positive environment for breastfeeding mothers.

The Equality Act 2010 states that it is unlawful for a business to discriminate against a woman because she is breastfeeding a child of any age. Click here for more guidance.

Businesses that sign up to being breastfeeding friendly will be asked to provide a welcoming, clean and comfortable environment for breastfeeding mums, and to ensure all staff are supportive of their needs. Venues taking part will display window and till stickers letting women know they are welcome to breastfeed as well as posters and leaflets offering more support and information.

Mums who want to find breastfeeding friendly venues, or businesses wanting to register to be breastfeeding friendly, can contact breastfeeding.friendly@nottinghamcitycare.nhs.uk or ring 0115 833 4900.

Nottingham CityCare also offers a Breastfeeding Peer Support Service, click here for more information, and Breastfeeding Groups, click here for more information.

How can I become a breastfeeding friendly business?

To become a breastfeeding friendly business or venue you need to adopt a formal Breastfeeding Friendly Policy (see below).

You also need to provide a welcoming environment for breastfeeding mums and allow breastfeeding in all public areas. You must ensure that all your staff are positive towards, and supportive of, breastfeeding mums.

If another customer complains, explain to them why it is important to support breastfeeding mums and ask them to move to another area; you should not ask the mum and child to move.

You must offer an acceptable standard of cleanliness, warmth and comfortable seating and display a window and till sticker to let customers know you are breastfeeding friendly. You should also display the 'Be a Star' campaign posters and leaflets to let customers know why it’s important to support breastfeeding mums in the community.

Some venues provide a room for mums to breastfeed in private (if they wish to). It may be a designated room or an available room at the time. Not all premises have the space and resources available to provide a separate breastfeeding room.

If a room is provided it should be clean, comfortable, have a chair and be near to (but not in) a baby changing area or toilet. Some venues may go the extra mile and provide a footrest, a cushion, access to water and a wide enough doorway to allow access with a pushchair.

To take part in the campaign, and support local breastfeeding mums, please complete the registration form (click to get an electronic copy). To arrange a visit or request an application pack contact breastfeeding.friendly@nottinghamcitycare.nhs.uk or 0115 833 4866.

When you register we will add you to our Breastfeeding Friendly Directory and send you:

We want to help you work towards your business or venue becoming breastfeeding friendly and have a handy checklist (click here) to help you meet the required criteria. If you’re unable to fully complete the checklist at this time, please don’t worry - we’re here to help. Please email us for help and advice on becoming breastfeeding friendly at breastfeeding.friendly@nottinghamcitycare.nhs.uk or by ringing 0115 833 4866.

What is a breastfeeding friendly policy

Your Breastfeeding Friendly Policy needs to state that you welcome babies to be breastfed in any public area of your premises and outline how you will make that happen.

Example Breastfeeding Friendly Policy

[Business/venue Name] welcomes babies to be breastfed in any public area of these premises.

How will we make this happen?

All our staff will support the needs and rights of mothers’ breastfeeding. If another customer/visitor objects to discreet breastfeeding they should be told that the management supports breastfeeding. If the situation cannot be resolved readily, junior staff should refer customers to senior management.

A copy of this document, along with a brief guide to following this Breastfeeding Friendly Policy, will be issued to all new staff members and a copy will be made available for staff to refer to.

Distributing and updating this policy is the responsibility of [Business/venue General Manager] who will be glad to hear compliments, comments and reports of any incidents. If a member of staff feels that they need more guidance on following this policy they should speak to [Business/venue General Manager].

In addition to this, we will enable you to develop a Breastfeeding Friendly Policy to support your employees to continue breastfeeding when they return to work. This policy should include: flexible breaks for expression; clean, warm and private places to express; safe storage for expressed milk; flexible working hours and risk assessments.

For further information about breastfeeding policies, or to ask for support to develop a policy, you can contact breastfeeding.friendly@nottinghamcitycare.nhs.uk or 0115 833 4900.

What are my responsibilities under the law

Under the Equality Act 2010, a business cannot discriminate against mothers who are breastfeeding a child of any age.

A business may ask a breastfeeding woman to leave their premises if the reason for this request is not due to her breastfeeding. However, if the woman later claims that discrimination occurred because she was breastfeeding, the business will have to prove that there was in fact no discrimination.

Do make sure women you’re providing services to are allowed to breastfeed on your premises if they want to.

Do ensure that mothers breastfeeding babies are not discriminated against, no matter how old the child is.

Do train all your employees, especially those who deal with the public, to be aware of the protection from discrimination given to breastfeeding mothers under the Equality Act 2010.

Don't forget, under the Equality Act 2010, discriminating against someone because they are with a breastfeeding mother is also prohibited, so companions of breastfeeding mothers who are also treated unfairly may have a claim, too.

Case studies

Saul, a bus driver, tells Kate, who is breastfeeding on the bus, that if she does not either stop or get off the bus she could be arrested for indecency. This is not only inaccurate, but it is unlawful direct discrimination, and the company will be liable under the Equality Act 2010 unless it can show that it has taken all reasonable steps to stop the driver from acting in this way. Saul will be liable whether or not his employer is.

Anne is in a café owned by Chris. Anne is swearing loudly at her partner, Bob, while breastfeeding her child. Chris asks Anne to talk more quietly or to leave. Anne and Bob leave and they decide to claim that this was discrimination because Anne was breastfeeding. But because the reason why they left was unconnected to Anne breastfeeding, this would not amount to unlawful discrimination.

FAQs

Am I responsible for how other customers treat a woman who is breastfeeding?

Yes, you may be responsible, and you will be responsible if other customers’ behaviour has been brought to your attention and you failed to act. You have an obligation to ensure that a woman who is breastfeeding while receiving a service you provide is not treated unfairly. The Equality Act 2010 aims to give women complete confidence to breastfeed while going about their day-to-day business. Businesses must facilitate this.

Does this mean I have to create a separate facility to allow women customers to breastfeed?

No, but you are under an obligation to ensure that a woman can breastfeed without being treated unfairly. It is up to you to decide how best to do this.

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