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Breastfeeding on University Premises Policy

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Section 1 - Purpose and Context

(1) Western Sydney University, in promoting equal opportunity in employment and education, is committed to supporting policies and practices which assist employees and students with family and caring responsibilities.  

(2) The University supports a parent’s need to breastfeed while working and studying at, and visiting, the University's premises.

(3) This policy applies to all employees and students of the University who wish to combine breastfeeding with paid work and/or study. It also applies to visitors of University premises who wish to utilise breastfeeding facilities. This policy should be read in conjunction with the Workplace Flexibility Policy, Work Health and Safety Policy, Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy, Respect and Inclusion in Learning and Working Policy and Children on University Premises Policy.

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Section 2 - Definitions

(4) For the purpose of this policy:

  1. Breastfeeding means breastfeeding a child or expressing breast milk.
  2. University premises means all University physical spaces including lecture theatres, teaching and learning spaces, food venues and recreational areas.
  3. Employee means any person who is a current employee of the University, and includes full-time, part-time, casual and contracted staff.
  4. Student means an enrolled student at the University, and includes undergraduate and postgraduate students.
  5. Visitor means any person visiting University premises who wishes to utilise breastfeeding facilities.
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Section 3 - Policy Statement

(5) The University acts to support a parent’s right to breastfeed, including in any area of the University's premises.

(6) The University will provide suitable facilities and arrangements to allow employees, students and visitors to breastfeed. Use of these facilities is optional. The Office of Estate and Commercial, Student Welfare Service and Campus Safety and Security can advise the locations of available facilities and they are also published on the University's website under Parenting Support.

(7) The University recognises that the needs of a breastfeeding parent are temporary.

(8) As individual needs of the parent, carer and child will vary, the University is committed to offering flexible arrangements that will meet the needs of the parent or carer as well as operational and/or study requirements.

(9) Support from university students and staff is crucial to providing a supportive work and study environment for parents and carers. All students and staff have a responsibility to treat people who are breastfeeding with respect and dignity and to make reasonable adjustments wherever possible without unfavourable treatment.

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Section 4 - Procedures

(10) All University students and staff  have provisions protecting breastfeeding as outlined in this policy, Staff Agreements (Academic and Professional) and the Children on University Premises Policy.

Human Resources Responsibility 

(11) The Office of Human Resources is responsible for the implementation and ongoing facilitation of support for breastfeeding employees through the following channels:

  1. Ensure all managers are aware of this policy by following the Parental Leave Checklist for Supervisors.
  2. Provision of breastfeeding information when maternity leave is requested.

Managerial and Staff Supervisor Responsibility

(12) Managers and supervisors shall ensure that all employees are aware of, and comply with, this policy. This includes:

  1. Ensuring all staff understand their rights under this policy.
  2. Ensuring that all staff understand their responsibilities under this policy.
  3. Ensuring pregnant staff are aware of their rights prior to taking maternity leave, a leave of absence or a break from study.
  4. Supporting breastfeeding requests in line with operational requirements.
  5. If, due to operational needs, there is a need to delay the taking of a lactation break, efforts should be made to ensure that the employee is able to take the break as soon as practical in order to minimise any risks to their health and/or milk supply for the child’s health.

Employee Responsibility

(13) Employees wishing to combine work and breastfeeding shall discuss their conditions as soon as practicable, with their manager or supervisor. Employees shall:

  1. Discuss the duration and timing of lactation breaks with their manager or supervisor prior to the first break being taken. Ideally this should be done prior to returning to work to minimise the impact this may have on the workplace.
  2. Notify their manager or supervisor when they depart and return to work, if an agreement to leave the workplace for lactation breaks has been arranged.
  3. Notify their manager or supervisor if their breastfeeding needs change significantly, or cease, so that any agreement can be amended as required.

Student Responsibility

(14) Where a specific adjustment is required to the student’s study provisions to accommodate breastfeeding, students are to discuss their needs with relevant teaching staff, school administration or student welfare (whoever is most appropriate) as soon as practicable eg. Tutorial times that may need to be changed, exam provisions. Further advice for students can be found on the University’s website.

Parent and Carer Responsibility 

(15) Parents or carers wishing to utilise breastfeeding facilities have the responsibility to:

  1. Where, appropriate, supply their own expressing equipment and appropriate storage containers for expressed breastmilk.
  2. Clearly label any containers with their name and date before placing them in the designated refrigerator.
  3. Ensure that the child is accompanied by an adult at all times as per the Children on University Premises Policy
  4. Observe any other guidelines for the use of the designated room.

Facilities

(16) The University has provided suitable facilities in which parents can express breast milk or breastfeed their child if their child is brought on to University premises. Further details on available facilities, including features, locations and access to these, can be found on the University’s website.  

Lactation Breaks for Employees

(17) Lactation breaks need to be agreed on with the manager and/or supervisor and the employee and all reasonable steps taken by the manager/supervisor to reasonably accommodate lactation requirements

(18) The number of times employees need to feed or express milk will be determined by the individual needs and age of the child. The younger the child, the more frequently a parent is likely to need to do so. As per the Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace program Standards, an employee working a standard seven hour day is entitled to two paid half hour breaks per day for the purpose of breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk. For employees requiring more than one hour for combined lactation breaks during a standard seven hour work day, flexible work or leave arrangements may be implemented to cover the time in excess of that hour. This benefit is available until either breastfeeding ceases or the child is two years old, whichever is sooner.

(19) Breastfeeding employees returning to work following parental leave can seek flexible work options as outlined in the Academic Staff Agreement 2017 and Professional Staff Agreement 2017.

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Section 5 - Guidelines

(20) The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, Sex Discrimination Act 1984, Fair Work Act 2009, Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW) provide the legislative basis for not discriminating against breastfeeding parents.

(21) Further information can be found on the Australian Breastfeeding Association website.