BRITISH COLUMBIA HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
POLICY AND PROCEDURE MANUAL
TITLE: Sex discrimination – breastfeeding and expressing milk
(1) Discrimination because a woman is breastfeeding or expressing breast milk* is sex discrimination.
(2) Employers have a duty to accommodate lactating employees.
(3) Accommodation will usually require, at a minimum, providing work schedule flexibility, including scheduling breaks, to allow time for breastfeeding or milk expression.
(4) Time required for breastfeeding breaks or daily reduction of work hours shall be counted as working time and remunerated as such.1 If the mother requires more time to breastfeed or express milk than her regularly scheduled paid breaks allow, her breaks with pay shall be extended as required.
(5) If a work-related meeting conflicts with a woman’s breastfeeding schedule, then the woman may breastfeed during that meeting unless to do so would be unduly disruptive (e.g.: if the baby is unduly noisy).2 No employer may refuse to allow a woman to breastfeed during a work meeting only because of negative reactions from other participants (e.g. an offended sense of decency).
(6) Accommodation may also involve:
· advising all employees, through the use of appropriate signage (e.g. breastfeeding friendly workplace stickers) or through clearly stated policy, that breastfeeding / expressing breast milk is permitted;
· providing a suitably furnished private space in which a woman can either breastfeed or express milk. This can either be the woman’s office space, if she has a private office already, or another suitable
private space, other than a toilet stall, located near the woman’s work area (e.g. a first aid station);
· providing access nearby to a clean, safe water source and a sink for washing hands and rinsing out any needed breast-pumping equipment as well as access to a fridge for storing bottled milk;
(7) Entities that provide public services/facilities customarily available to the public also have a duty to accommodate lactating women.
(8) For those women who wish to breastfeed / express milk in public accommodation includes:
· allowing mothers to breastfeed / express milk on public benches such as may be found in shopping malls, museums, hospitals, public parks, restaurants, etc.;
· allowing mothers to breastfeed their babies while walking in stores, etc.; and
· allowing mothers to breastfeed / express milk in the regular passenger areas on ferries or buses.
(9) For those women who wish to breastfeed / express milk in private accommodation includes:
· providing a private location, other than toilet facilities, where such locations already exist, for a woman to breastfeed / express milk. For example, a mall or other public building with a first aid room should make it available to lactating women upon request. However, where no such location exists, the service provider does not have to build one.
Policy approved: August 1, 2000
* Expressing milk is the process by which a lactating woman uses a breast pump to bottle her milk to feed her baby at a later time.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Related links
British Columbia Human Rights Commission Policy and Procedure Manual
Provincial Human Rights Commissions
Michelle Poirier versus the BC Ministry of Municipal Affairs
ORDER: INFACT Canada’s “Baby’s right to eat” and “Breastfeeding Convict Baby” posters*
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