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What is a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace

Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace is where an organization or enterprise provides an appropriate and friendly environment for their breastfeeding employees to express breast milk at workplace so that they can continue breastfeeding for their babies.

Why support breastfeeding
Enhance Productivity

Children who are breastfed are relatively healthier, and this means reduce the chance of parents having to miss work in order to take of their sick children.

Enhance Cohesion

The measures can reduce the turnover of female employees, including experienced employees. Also, it enhances staff members’ moral and sense of belonging.


Good Corporate Social Responsibility

It demonstrates the company is supportive of child rights and breastfeeding. It shows that the company is supportive of the newly amended Sex Discrimination Ordinance, which aims to protect the right of working mothers to breastfeed.


How to become Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace?
1Time: Provide lactation breaks
  • Assuming an eight-hour work day, two 30-minute lactation breaks should be given to employees, or a total of one-hour lactation break
  • It is recommended that lactation breaks should be paid


  • Require the employee to work overtime in order to compensate the lost work hours due to breastfeeding
  • Require the employee to show proof of breastfeeding in order to grant lactation breaks
2Space: Provide a private breastfeeding space and a fridge
3Support: Encourage all employess to support but not discriminating breastfeeding employees

Implement a written Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace policy to facilitate communication



Provide training to staff members so that they become open and friendly towards breastfeeding.


Apart from providing the aforementioned breastfeeding support services, a workplace can also


Provide extra or longer lactation breaks

A mother who returns to the workplace might need more time to express breast milk in the new environment


Extend maternity leave

A longer maternity leave can help a mother to breastfeed exclusively so to meet the special needs of her new born baby


Provide flexible work arrangements

Reduce the employee’s working hours and provide flexible working hours, such as part-time work schedules, longer lunch and rest breaks.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • A company has lots of flexibility in making a workplace breastfeeding friendly. Apart from diverting some resources to set up a nursing room, it can also make use of conference rooms, empty rooms and desk spaces that offer an enhanced level of privacy.

  • When a child turns one year old, he or she has begun eating a variety of food. At the same, the amount of milk required will also be reduced. At this point, most mothers only require one lactation break. An employer can communicate more closely with the employee in order to understand the employee’s needs and to provide relevant support.

  • Most employees, irrespective of their gender, support the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace initiative. An employer should communicate frequently with their employees and let them know that the related measures are temporary in nature and will bring long-term benefits to all sides. This will help implement the measures.

  • Breast milk is rich in nutrition and provides the antibodies, immunocytes and growth factors the baby needs in order to strengthen the baby’s immune system. The breast milk’s nutritional components will change over time to meet the developmental needs of the baby. Also, breastfeeding cannot be replaced by formula milk as breastfeeding takes place according to the needs of the baby.


    UNCIEF recommends that a baby can be breastfed exclusively during the first six months of life. Eventually, solid food can be added to the meal little by little. At the same, breastfeeding can continue. Even if mothers return to the workplace, they can maintain the production volume by expressing breast milk. The breast milk can be stored in a refrigerator and brought back home for the baby after work.

  • The Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) was an anti-discrimination legislation enacted in 1995. According to the SDO, it is against the law to discriminate on the grounds of sex, marital status, pregnancy and breastfeeding. The law covers different areas, and it equally protects both males and females. (The provision regarding breastfeeding came into effect on 19 June 2021).


    The SDO also provides for the establishment of the Equal Opportunities Commission, where it is charged with the responsible of eradicating discrimination and harassment, and of promoting gender equality.


  • Discrimination is further categorized into direct and indirect discrimination. Direct discrimination happens when someone is treated less favourably because of gender, marital status, pregnancy or breastfeeding. For example, sex discrimination occurs if an employer employs another person instead of you because of gender. Or if you are a pregnant single woman, and your employer only offers benefits to those who are legally married, then your employer would have committed an offence because of differential treatment based on marital status. Or if your employer terminates your employment after you finish your maternity leave, then the employer would have contravened the law because of differential treatment based on pregnancy.


    Indirect discrimination happens when there is a policy or rule that applies to everyone, but in reality there are no fully justifiable reasons to impose such a policy or rule. Also, the policy and rule would disadvantage a group of people because of gender, marital status, pregnancy or breastfeeding. For example, your employer punishes you if you are pregnant and cannot work overtime. If the employer cannot provide fully justifiable reasons why overtime is required, then the punishment will constitute indirect discrimination.

  • Breastfeeding discrimination occurs if anyone directly or indirectly discriminate against a breastfeeding female (irrespective of whether the female is breastfeeding her own child) or a female who is collecting her breast milk. The prohibition is equally applicable to discriminatory acts that do not occur during the breastfeeding process, as long as such acts are made because of breastfeeding. For example, a contravention would occur if a restaurant refuses service to a breastfeeding female, or if an employer terminates the employment of an employee or treat the employee less favourably because the employee collects her breast milk in the office.

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