Q&A – What should you provide for breastfeeding employees?

According to figures from Kind en Gezin (Belgian National Child Welfare Agency), 67% of Flemish babies are breastfed exclusively. What facilities should you, as an employer, offer to employees who want to pump milk in the workplace?​

Which room do you make available?

You should provide a room where employees can breastfeed or pump discreetly and hygienically in your company’s building. Some minimum requirements apply:

  • cold and hot water is available;
  • there is a comfortable chair and refrigerator available;
  • the room is enclosed – there are no windows for colleagues to see through – and is located in an inconspicuous place;
  • the room is big enough;
  • the room is adequately ventilated, illuminated, and heated.

The space is set up after consultation with the Health and Safety Officer or occupational physician. If the first aid room meets the above conditions, it can be used as a breastfeeding room.

You must provide a suitable space for pregnant workers, too. They should be able to lie down and rest comfortably there. Many organisations use the breastfeeding room or first aid room for this purpose.

Are employees allowed to pump during working hours?

Female employees are also entitled – in addition to maternity protection – to breastfeeding breaks until nine months after the birth of their child. If you work four hours a day, you can take a half-hour break. Is an employee working at least seven and a half hours a day? Then she can 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.

In principle, the employee must inform you two months in advance if she wants to take breastfeeding breaks. During the period in which she takes the breaks, she will provide you with a monthly medical certificate proving that she is breastfeeding.

Need a helping hand?

Mensura can provide custom advice on how you can optimally apply your legal obligations. If you have a specific question, please contact us on +32 2 549 71 00 or health@mensura.be.

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