Q&A – Is an employee allowed to take breastfeeding breaks after returning from breastfeeding leave?

Employees who breastfeed and are exposed to specific risks during their work, may be entitled to prophylactic breastfeeding leave. In addition, any employee who breast-feeds is entitled to breastfeeding breaks, under certain conditions. Can both be combined?

In short: yes. An employee who has returned from prophylactic breastfeeding leave is entitled to breastfeeding breaks up to 9 months after giving birth.

What is prophylactic breastfeeding leave?

Employees who breastfeed and hold a position that exposes them to health risks for the child, are entitled to having their role adjusted. Examples of potential hazards include exposure to chemical substances or biological agents.

If adjusted work is not an option, the employee is entitled to prophylactic breastfeeding leave. For the duration of no more than 5 months after giving birth. The (internal) occupational physician determines whether the occupational risks justify breastfeeding leave.

The prophylactic breastfeeding leave is unpaid. The employee receives a replacement income from the health insurance fund at the amount of 60% of the gross salary. A maximum applies.

What is the difference compared to breastfeeding breaks?

Employees who breastfeed are entitled to breastfeeding breaks up to nine months after giving birth. Those who work four-hour days are entitled to a half-hour break for breastfeeding or expression. Is an employee working at least seven and a half hours a day? Then they may pause once for an hour or twice for half an hour each time. The employee shall receive a benefit from the health insurance fund for the breaks.

The employee must inform you two months in advance if she wants to take breastfeeding breaks. During the period in which they take the breaks, they shall provide you with a monthly medical certificate proving that they are breastfeeding.

As an employer, you must provide facilities for employees who take breastfeeding breaks, including a room with warm and cold water facilities.​

Need a helping hand?

Mensura can provide custom advice on how to optimise your maternity protection. If you have a specific question, please contact us on +32 2 549 71 00 or health@mensura.be.

Mensura will help you develop a targeted approach.

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