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Breastfeeding women at work: Checklist for leaders

A checklist on how you can, as a leader, adopt good practice to accommodate, support and retain breastfeeding women at your school or college. 

Breastfeeding woman

Breastfeeding women at work

How to help secure safety, privacy, dignity and equity for women who are breastfeeding on return to work from maternity leave.

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What can you do?

  • Before a new mother returns to work, let her know that her breastfeeding or expressing needs will be supported and offer a confidential discussion as part of a KIT day or return-to-work induction.
  • Display the NEU’s Supporting breastfeeding women at work posters in your workplace.
  • Read the NEU Breastfeeding women at work model policy.
  • Share the material with your SLT and discuss the benefits of having such a policy in place: reduced sick days, improved wellbeing and better performance to name but a few. Remember to discuss your duty of care as an employer.
  • Adjust the policy to suit your education setting through negotiation; for guidance, use the process set out in the trade union recognition agreement, if you have one.
  • Assess the risks to women of childbearing age as part of your general workplace risk assessment. Carry out an individual risk assessment before or immediately after a breastfeeding mother returns to work from maternity leave, covering her specific needs. You can make use of the NEU Breastfeeding women at work model risk assessment (available at
  • Provide a private, clean, safe space for breastfeeding mothers to rest and to breastfeed or express breastmilk and fridge space for women to store expressed breastmilk.
  • Support requests for paid breastfeeding breaks: reasonable adjustments to the working day enable breastfeeding mothers to rest and to breastfeed or express breastmilk at convenient times.
  • Provide appropriate cover where a woman needs an extended morning, midday or afternoon break to fully express her breastmilk.
  • Build in suitable breaks for breastfeeding women at work between the ordinary school or college day and other activities such as clubs, parent evenings and meetings.
  • Make sure that breastfeeding women are able to leave work on time to avoid discomfort, engorgement or infection.
  • Protect teachers’ PPA time; breastfeeding teachers should not be asked to use their PPA time to rest, breastfeed or express breastmilk.
  • Insert the school/college name in the policy and make sure it is included in the employee handbook or equivalent.

Breastfeeding women at work model policy

The aim of this model policy on breastfeeding women at work is to provide a framework that schools can adopt to secure risk assessment, suitable rest facilities, flexible adjustments and breastfeeding breaks for new mothers at work.

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