Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against a woman because she is:

  • pregnant;
  • presumed to be pregnant or intending to become pregnant;
  • breastfeeding or expressing milk.

Employers should consider making all reasonable adjustments to the workplace to accommodate the normal effects of pregnancy. Communication with employees throughout the period of their pregnancy and return to work is vital to ensure that the needs of both the employee and employer can be met.

If a woman is breastfeeding or expressing milk when she returns to work after giving birth, employers should consult with the employee about the possibility of making reasonable accommodations to the work environment. This may include altering break times or providing a designated area to breastfeed and express milk if this is viable.

When an employee returns to work following maternity leave, they are generally entitled to return to the position they held prior to commencing leave. If that position has ceased to exist in their absence, a comparable position should be offered to the employee. It is important for employers to keep employees on maternity leave up to date with any significant organisational changes that may occur in their absence.

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