Overseas business trip and breastfeeding

(10 Posts)
lizzywig Tue 12-Feb-13 21:04:03

I am posting on behalf of a friend that I work with. She is breastfeeding her 15mo and plans to stop when her DD is 2yo unless DD wants to stop before this. A work trip has come up to the Middle East to which is imperative to her career. As she is breastfeeding the company said (verbally) she could take her DD and DH but she would need to pay for the flights, the company offered to pay for all 3 visas. However they said she would need to book the visas via our company travel agents which is more expensive than just going direct to the embassy. Her manager approved it and she made the request - the applications are currently with the embassy and you can't withdraw them.

HR have now said that travelling with her DD and DH could make the company liable (although not said what for) and have said they cannot go - they have even asked her to repay the company the cost of the 2 visas (which were booked through the more expensive option through the businesses choice). The Director heading up the department has also compounded this by saying "it wouldn't look very professional turning up with a baby" - DD of course would be at the hotel with DH.

She and I both know that legally employers have to make available the opportunity for mothers to breastfeed. What's more, the trip is for a week and there is every chance that her supply could dry up/DD could go on boob strike on return. So she explained this to the company and they said "well you don't have to go, it's not vital you are there, we'll just send someone else".

We feel they are being naughty, she is the person heading up the project and is the only person the people in the Middle East can talk to, the whole trip would be pointless if she wasn't there. The business know this and are banking on her knowing this to feeling as if she has to go and leave DD at home.

I'm not sure what the company issue is - surely not money, it's not that much in the grand scheme of things. So my question is, where does she stand legally on this? She doesn't want to "take them to the cleaners" but she does want to talk to them again and have some clout behind her. Her aim is for DD and DH to be allowed to go but failing that to not have to repay the cost of the visas, it's £250 and she can't afford it.

jkklpu Tue 12-Feb-13 22:27:03

Tricky situation. If the baby is 15mo, there's no way supply would dry up after a week. Why can't she pump? Even if she didn't, it wouldn't.

I don't know the employment law, but I do think it a bit strange that your friend got this far down the line without really looking into it. An employer's insurance wouldn't normally cover dependants. Can it really be that an employer is obliged to send an employee's family on all trips as long as she continues to bf? If I were the employer, I'd be a bit hmm about this so I really hope it's not a legal obligation.

Waiting for flowery or someone to come and enlighten us.

flowery Tue 12-Feb-13 22:47:38

Because they changed their mind I think they ought to stand the cost of the visas.

Allowing her to bring a toddler and partner would be way over and above what they'd be expected to do legally, so I'm impressed they were going to, although its obviously a shame they've changed their mind.

Time to express would be fine when child is this age, and they are not making the trip compulsory either.

I do think she should push for them to waive the fees though as that is their fault for changing their mind.

MyGlassIsJustHalfWet Tue 12-Feb-13 22:55:21

When is the trip? Has she got enough time to express before? She could express and freeze the milk and pump while she is away.

lizzywig Wed 13-Feb-13 06:05:13

The trip is on Saturday so they've left it quite late to tell her. She's never expressed before and tried in light of this news but didn't get much. She also doesn't have the luxury of time having 2 other children (who would stay with grandparents the trip). She would have been paying for flights and hotel and visa but the company offered to pay for the visas. So it's not like she was asking the business to pay for her choices.

I feel that at the very least she should not have to pay for te visas. She has travelled with them many times before and in her mind had looked into it. She asked them the question, they gave her an answer, she acted.

The trip is compulsory, they're making a risky move by saying it isn't and i think it's their tactic to get out of any "obligation". If the deal falls through they'll lose millions. In addition we're all being made redundant due to office relocation in a few months. My friend will be going freelance and needs to keep on good terms with the industry, hence not wanting to annoy our company but also why she needs to go on the trip.

AbbyCat Wed 13-Feb-13 06:20:12

I think there's a real chance bf will be over if she goes without dd. even if she maintains supply, her dd may decide not to bf when she gets back. How much is the visa fee? Personally I wouldn't have expected my company to pay for my family's visa fee (but if it was previously agreed that's a different matter). And as for the company supporting bf, i rhinj they just need to provide a space for her to express (presumably the hotel room?). I can't imagine they need to do more.

flowery Wed 13-Feb-13 09:39:56

How is it a "risky move" them saying it's not compulsory? confused

If your friend is going freelance and wants to go on the trip to help her personal future career then that's a good reason for her wanting to go but not for her to argue that her company aren't meeting legal obligations by not allowing her to bring her DH and DD.

There are some very knowledgeable ladies who post in the breast feeding topic who might be able to advise on the impact of a week's break from breast feeding with a 15mo, whether supply is likely to dry up etc

CMOTDibbler Wed 13-Feb-13 09:44:33

Her supply will be fine at 15 months - expressing morning and evening (I'd hand express if she doesn't normally) will be enough, and her dd is unlikely to forget about it.

I bf to 23 months, having returned to work ft at 4.5 months and back to travelling internationally at 6 months. I never considered taking ds with me - I was working after all.

bunchofposy Wed 13-Feb-13 12:52:14

Hi, I breastfeed my 2 year old and also don't think supply would be affected that much for a week. DD has had breaks from me, admittedly not a week, but she always returned for more. I've also been away for 2/3 days having forgotten a pump and the milk's still been there on my return. When I have pumped it hasn't looked like much is coming out but it's kept it flowing.

I don't know about anything else but I def think it's not fair for the company not to pay for the visas if they initially said they would!

janey68 Wed 13-Feb-13 13:38:11

Another one here who continued bf long after
Returning to work. Once they were over a year, I took
breaks of several days for various reasons, and never had problems with milk supply. After all the baby doesn't need it for nutrition any more
Agree company should honour visa payments, but tbh by this age I would be doing the business trip alone

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