Breaks and facilities for breastfeeding
The Employment Relations Act 2000 supports the return to work of valued and productive workers and assists the best start for New Zealand infants.
Employers are required to provide appropriate facilities and breaks for employees who wish to breastfeed (including expressing breast milk).
The breaks are unpaid unless the employee and employer agree otherwise.
The breastfeeding breaks are to be provided in addition to the standard paid rest breaks and unpaid meal breaks.
The rest and meal breaks can also be used as breastfeeding breaks if this is agreed to by both employer and employee.
Employers and employees should discuss what arrangements are needed and can be provided.
This shouldn’t be costly or complicated.
In most cases it will involve no more than simply making available private space when required and providing access to a refrigerator.
It is appreciated that circumstances will differ according to the operational environment and the employer’s resources. All that is required is that arrangements are made that are reasonable and practicable in the circumstances.
Good practice would be to write down the agreements about the facilities the employer will make available and the breaks needed to breastfeed an infant.
Employers may be liable to a penalty imposed by the Employment Relations Authority if they do not make reasonable and practicable arrangements for breastfeeding employees who wish to breastfeed during working hours.
The Authority will also have the power to order employers to comply with their obligations.
Further information & guidance
You will find practical guidance about how the requirements of the legislation can be met in the Code of Employment Practice on Infant Feeding.
You can find answers to common questions on breaks and breastfeeding by visiting Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).
The Breastfeeding in the Workplace – A Guide for Employers [PDF 318KB] also has practical information about how facilities can be provided in a workplace.
If either employers or employees have difficulty discussing and making agreements about this or other employment matters, the problem solving pages on this website may be helpful. The Department of Labour can provide services to assist this process.
The information in the Guide for working parents might assist them to strike a balance between their working and home lives.