Your rights | breastfedbabies

There are a number of regulations that provide protection for pregnant and breastfeeding women at work.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (NI) 2000 state that, under this legislation, the breastfeeding mother must notify her employer in advance of her return to work if she wants to continue breastfeeding.

New mothers are protected if the health of the mother or the baby is at risk. Having to stop breastfeeding would potentially put the health of mother and baby at risk.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations (NI) 1993 require employers to provide suitable rest facilities for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.

The Employment rights (NI) Order 1996 states that if your work is no longer suitable while pregnant or breastfeeding, the employer must try to find alternative work on the same pay. If no suitable work is available, then the employee should be offered a leave of absence on full pay on maternity grounds.

The Sex Discrimination (NI) Order 1976 provides protection to pregnant women and those on maternity leave against discrimination.

Guidance from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland  (HSENI), New and Expectant mothers who work, details the action an employer should take to protect the health and safety of pregnant women and new mothers. 

The PHA's Promoting breastfeeding for mothers returning to work: a guide for employers outlines the business benefits of encouraging mothers to continue breastfeeding on return to work, the health benefits of breastfeeding for mums, the legislation affecting mothers at work, and some easy steps that employers can take to support breastfeeding mothers. 

The PHA has also produced a useful leaflet, ‘Breastfeeding and returning to work’, for mothers who are planning to combine breastfeeding and working.  

A sample policy for employers on supporting breastfeeding employees can be downloaded from

Useful contacts

There are a number of websites that provide further information, these include:

HSENI, Tel: 028 9024 3249

Equality Commission, Tel: 028 9050 060010

Labour Relations Agency,  Tel: 028 9032 1442

Maternity Action, Tel: 020 7253 2288