It is legal to breastfeed in public in the United Kingdom? This section explains the rules for breastfeeding a baby in public or at work.
BREASTFEEDING LAW UK: The Equality Act 2010 has extra clarification on public breastfeeding laws.
It is unlawful for a business, or staff, to discriminate against women for breastfeeding in public.
Mothers can apply the law and breastfeed a child of any age, even at work. There is no age restriction on breastfeeding.
There are situations where you can ask a breastfeeding woman to leave your premises. The fact that she is breastfeeding cannot be the reason.
Businesses and employers need to be cautious about these situations. In some cases, you may need to prove there was no discrimination towards breastfeeding. This is more likely to occur if a woman pursues a claim of discrimination against your business.
The UK breastfeeding in public law applies to most service providers including:
Note: Service providers must not victimize or harass any woman who chooses to breastfeed a baby. Thus, a shop owner cannot refuse to serve you or ask you to stop breastfeeding.
The UK law on breastfeeding protects you in public places. This includes all recreational parks, public buildings, and sports and leisure facilities.
The Equality Law 2010 also covers you to nurse a baby on public transport such as airplanes, trains, and on buses.
Protection for breastfeeders stretches to all hotels, restaurants, shops, and hospitals. The same also applies to petrol stations, cinemas, and theatres.
The law does not consent to time off work for breastfeeding. But, all workers have some employee employment rights. As such, you can ask your employer whether they will agree to flexible working hours.
Employers who provide services to the public are also responsible for the actions of all their staff and employees. But, employers do not need to provide milk expressing and storing facilities. Even so, they can choose to provide them as a matter of good practice.
Note: Employers must protect the health and safety of any employee who is breastfeeding on a return to work.
Further and higher education bodies must not discriminate against any student who is breastfeeding. Students who breastfeed should not be victimized, harassed, or excluded from education, for doing so. Educational facilities must not exclude breastfeeding students from any regular facilities, benefits, or services.
The law allows you to prevent a woman breastfeeding in a service which is a 'justified' single sex service for men. As a rule, that refers to a service where only one sex needs it (or needs it more than the other sex).
An example could be certain charities or voluntary groups that exclude women. Some religious organisations offer services to one sex. But, this should only occur when it is in line with the doctrines of that religion.
You can stop or prevent a woman breastfeeding if there are legitimate public health or safety risks. For instance it would be dangerous breastfeeding near radiation or certain chemicals.
Am I Responsible for How Other Customers Treat a Woman who is Breastfeeding?
The simple answer is yes your businesses must facilitate this. You may be responsible if you fail to act on the behaviour of other customers. You have an obligation to ensure fair treatment to any woman who is breastfeeding.
Do I Need to Create a Separate Facility to Allow Female Customers to Breastfeed?
The simple answer is no. But you should ensure that a female can breastfeed without suffering unfair treatment. You should determine how you can best achieve this.
As a matter of good practice and good business, you should treat everyone accessing your goods, facilities or services fairly, regardless of their age, gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, and guard against making assumptions about the characteristics of individuals.
Laws on Breastfeeding in Public in the United Kingdom