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A recent tribunal decision has found that employers must provide employees with a private workspace to express breastmilk to avoid successful claims for sex-related harassment claim.


A teacher returning from maternity leave informed her employer a number of times that she would need somewhere to express breastmilk whilst at work. The school failed to support her request meaning she used her lunch break to express in her car or in the school toilets. The tribunal held that the employer’s behaviour created a degrading and humiliating environment for the teacher, and therefore amounted to sex-related harassment.

Practical takeaway 

Return to work – the school in this instance were specifically called out for their ‘incompetence’ in managing the employee’s return to work. Any employee returning from maternity leave may have concerns or reservations, so ensuring you’re carrying out a timely risk assessment to pick up on and address any possible issues (then acting accordingly) will help to mitigate potential challenge.

Health and safety – whilst there’s no statutory right to facilities in order to express breastmilk, the Health and Safety Executive provide specific guidance that a private and clean environment should be provided as well as a fridge in order to store expressed milk.

If you need support in managing a return to work or requests from employees, Intelligent Employment is here to help – get in touch. 


This update is accurate on the date it was sent (27 July 2022), but may be subject to change which may or may not be notified to you. This update is not to be taken as advice and you should seek advice if anything contained within affects you or your business.

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