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Q. What are my entitlements to Breastfeeding breaks

The Breastfeeding Policy, HR 006/2021, was approved by the HSE and is effective from 2nd February 2021 and will apply to all employees in the public health service. If you are breastfeeding, after returning from maternity leave, you are entitled to breastfeeding breaks at work for up to one hour per normal working day. This is in addition to your normal rest breaks. The breaks may be taken until the child’s second birthday.

  • Breastfeeding breaks may be taken in the form of one break of 60 minutes, two breaks of 30 minutes each, or three breaks of 20 minutes each, or, in such other manner as agreed by your employer.
  • In relation to Breastfeeding facilities, a room will be made available to you to express your breast milk. This room may be used for other uses provided that another room is available if that space is in use. For example, office, consultation room, treatment room, meeting room, or staff room spaces. The room may be the place you normally work, provided the room: has adequate privacy,  is clean, and is comfortable for you. Toilets are not an appropriate place to breastfeed or to express breast milk.
  • If no breastfeeding facilities exist in the workplace, you may reduce your working day by one hour without loss of pay, in accordance with service needs, in a manner to be agreed between you and your employer. Breastfeeding breaks can be taken on each working day. The breaks cannot be carried forward or banked as a further type of leave. Nurses/Midwives who are working reduced hours, or work longer days, can take the breaks on a pro-rata basis.
  • The policy states you must apply to your line manager in writing as soon as possible but no later than four weeks prior to your return to work. Before you return to work, you and your employer will agree on how the breastfeeding breaks will be taken. Your employer will need to see proof of your child’s date of birth. This is part of the application process to identify when breastfeeding breaks will end.


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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie