Breastfeeding on campus
The University of Sydney promotes equal opportunity and the principles of equity in employment and education. It recognises the choice that parents may make regarding breastfeeding an infant. These guidelines assist staff and students to maintain and balance breastfeeding with their employment responsibiliities or study requirements.
A Parents Room is available in Fisher Library on level 3 'ground floor' where breastfeeding facilities are available.
What does the legislation say?
In June 2011 amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) established breastfeeding as a new separate ground of discrimination. Breastfeeding is defined as the act of expressing milk and includes a single act of breastfeeding and breastfeeding over a period of time.
Both direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of breastfeeding will be prohibited. This prohibition will cover various areas including work, education, goods, services and facilities, accommodation, land and clubs. However, any 'special measures' to address the needs of persons to breastfeed (such as a dedicated room in a workplace to feed or express) will not be considered discriminatory.
- Access to family friendly conditions of employment and study to support women to reasonably balance work and/or study and family responsibilities without discrimination or disadvantage.
- Equity for staff and students by seeking to support them in optimally contributing in the workplace or study and to prevent disadvantage or discrimination because of family responsbilities. Support from managers, colleagues, faculty staff and other students may be crucial in providing a supportive environment for breastfeeding mothers.
- Flexibility to accommodate the needs of staff and students with family responsibilities as well as the requirements of the work unit or course. Breastfeeding mothers may need flexibility in order to maintain their milk supply as they transition into the resumption of employment, a new role or study. Flexible working arrangements for staff could include, for example, flexible starting and finishing times around core working hours - as long as options are discussed with the manager and suit the requirements of the position and the business unit. Students should discuss their needs with relevant faculty staff.
- Lactation breaks are supported to enable the mother to either express breast milk, leave the University to feed her baby or have a caregiver bring the baby to the University to be breastfed. Breastfeeding staff may breastfeed or express breast milk during work hours.
- Work Health and Safety (WHS) issues may arise if the baby is brought into the workplace. It is the responsibility of the staff member and manager or student and faculty staff to consider and address any issues. Please refer to the Children in University Workplaces and Premises Policy. Identify suitable facilities reasonably close to the work and or study area where women can express breast milk or breastfeed. To comply with WHS requirements facilities should be hygienic, safe and private.
1. A staff member who is breastfeeding on returning from leave may seek flexible work arrangements to accomodate breastfeeding/expressing during work hours by requesting this from her manager with as much notice as possible. This request should be noted in the staff member's pre-return to work communications with her manager. It should be understood that, as the needs of the infant and mother change, both proposed and current arrangements may need to be adjusted. The manager and staff member should seek to balance the operational requirements of the work unit with the needs of the returning mother and her infant. Staff should remember that any arrangements made will cease when the lactation period ends.
2. Arrangements should remain confidential; only those staff who need to be made aware of the arrangements should be notified, unless the mother chooses otherwise. Students are encouraged to discuss any request for breastfeeding arrangements or flexibility with the relevant Faculty staff; however students should be aware of all course and subject requirements and the need to fulfil these.
3. The University will, where practicable, assist in locating clean hygienic facilities to breastfeed and/or express and store breast milk. This may include facilities with a power point, lockable door, chair, nappy change area, hand-washing facilities, refrigerator and breast pump storage area. If facilities are not available on site, alternative arrangements should be negotiated to store breast milk and related equipment. Parents facilities are available on Camperdown/Darlington campuses.
4. Staff and students are advised to discuss and arrange access to breastfeeding facilities in advance. Where breastfeeding rooms are jointly shared with First Aid rooms, access will be through consultation with the University's Work Health and Safety unit. If facilities are unavailable in relative proximity, staff or students are encouraged to discuss their needs with their manager, Faculty contact or the Staff and Student Equal Opportunity Unit to explore suitable alternative arrangements.