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Need help in writing to my employer about expressing when I return to work

(30 Posts)
crochetdiva Tue 08-Jul-08 15:31:27

I'm a teacher in a secondary school, and will be returning to work full-time in September, when dd is 11 months old.

I'm intending to carry on bf - dd hsn't been given any ff yet, and I don't intend to start now!

I think I'll be able to manage by that stage on just one, or maybe 2 expressings per day, and have found this factsheet which on page 3 talks about bf and working. I know I have the right to a clean room in which to express, but I also know that I have to inform them in writing of my needs, and I'd appreciaet some help in putting my letter together.

Should I include the text from the factsheet as well?

Thanks, oh wise MNers ...

crochetdiva Tue 08-Jul-08 18:03:58


BouncingTurtle Tue 08-Jul-08 18:33:46

You'll need to ask them to do a risk assessment as well.

I'm going bavk to work in September and I'll be emailing our H&S manager to tell him that I am still breastfeeding and I require a risk assessment. I've already sorted a room out to express in - one of my colleagues is being kicked out of vacating what will be my office as it is the only one private enough in the canteen building - so quick access to fridge.

It's very interesting but it seems to me that you need to justify breastfeeding as you don't have the right to paid breaks for expressing. It seems that unless you can prove that not breastfeeding would jeopardise your baby's health they are under no obligation to allow you to alter your working practices to stop your milk drying up! Though there are plenty of people who only feed baby in the morning and night quite successfully so even if you are not expressing during the day, your supply might not dry up.
However, certainly in my case I'll want to express during the day to supply milk for ds's nursery. And I guess in yours too!
Sorry this isn't much help but it has given me food for thought. I work in quite a high risk industry and despite the fact I told my boss i was pg immediately, it still took them over a month to do a risk assessment angry. Maybe my mc was a blessing in disguise as it meant my 2nd pg - which resulted in ds's birth was covered under the same risk assessment. Which wasn't worth the paper it was written on. But that is another story and I have waffled on enough!

crochetdiva Tue 08-Jul-08 18:58:29

Hiya Bouncing - it's ejt1764 as was ... so was on the pg after mc thread with you!

It feels really strange that this time last year I was unable to really believe I'd actually have this baby - and now here I am thinking about going back to work!

Thanks for telling me about the risk assessment - though given past experience, it'll probably be rather perfunctory - my pg risk assessment consisted of the site supervisor coming to see me one day and saying: "Can you think of anything we need to include in your risk assessment?" ... Then when I told her, she said "Oh" ... and that was it ...

Do you know of any typical risk assessment I could use?

BouncingTurtle Tue 08-Jul-08 21:17:12

I thought that name was familar! Course I remember you! How you doing, God it's coming around so fast isn't it!

Not really sure, just know in my case it is chemical exposure - i'm a lab mananger! Do you teach technology or chemistry?

crochetdiva Wed 09-Jul-08 06:44:01

No, I teach French ... but my classroom is opposite the children's toilets - and they honk!

I hope things go well for you in your return to work.

E x

NorthernLurker Wed 09-Jul-08 07:47:35

I hope your employer is helpful. I'm an example of somebody who is still breastfeeding having gone back to work. Dd3 has a fairly quick morning feed and a longer one before bed. She seems quite happy with this and I've had no problems during the day. At nursery she just drinks water.

BouncingTurtle Wed 09-Jul-08 07:51:12

What age was your dd3 when you went back to work?
And did you inform your employer you were still bfing?

crochetdiva Wed 09-Jul-08 07:57:27

Hi NorthernLurker - thanks for the reassurance that it can be done ... I must admit that I want dd to have her afternoon feed as normal - but only for the first month or so, because then she can have cow's milk as she'll be 1.

I have a horrible feeling my employer won't be helpful ... I had to ram the law down their throats when I was pg, as they were intending to give me a disciplinary for being off sick with hyperemesis and spd ... I'd already had a disciplinary for being off after having 2 mc! So, you can see why I'm not terribly hopeful of a sympathetic response!

Any ideas of what I should say in my letter?

tiktok Wed 09-Jul-08 09:15:40

crochet, this is something your trades union, if you are a member, should have policy and guidance on. If they don't, then the gap should be brought to their attention.

Good luck with this.

asicsgirl Wed 09-Jul-08 10:32:02

hi crochet, agree with asking the union. when i went back to work i contacted our equality & diversity manager who took up the issue of expressing with great gusto! is there anyone in this role in your school/ lea? good luck!

crochetdiva Wed 09-Jul-08 12:51:42

Right, have emailed the union ... not holding my breath though - I've emailed them on 2 separate occasions in the past and haven't been graced with a response!

Thanks tictok and asicsgirl ... I know my school doesn't have an equality and diversity officer (very keen on celebrating diversity in the students - not so good when it comes to the staff hmm), but I'm not sure about the LEA ... I shall investigate further!

NorthernLurker Wed 09-Jul-08 13:08:22

Bouncingturtle - I went back to work when dd3 was 1yr old and I diodn't mention it to my employer actually. As I wasn't feeding during the day and had no need to express it simply didn't occur to me. As a result of this thread though grin I have informed my manager today and asked him to speak to risk and legal about what if any assessment should be done. I've also pointed out that we have no coporate policy for maternity leave return - it's entirely down to individual managers to remember what should be asked/arranged and do it.

tiktok Wed 09-Jul-08 13:09:59

crochet - you pay your subs to be a member of your union. You are entitled to good service. If there is a battle to be fought about your expressing facilities, you do not/should not have to confront it on your own.

crochetdiva Wed 09-Jul-08 21:02:38

Thanks tiktok ... a rep from my union just phoned me back at home, and is going to email me a suggested letter in the morning ... as well as coming in with me to see the relevant dragon person if needed.

Feeling a lot happier now!

asicsgirl Thu 10-Jul-08 09:30:38

that's great crochet, hope you get the support you need.

kiskidee Thu 10-Jul-08 10:40:46

arg! wrote a long post ( i is teacher) and it didn't load.

Basically, you can't express in your classroom because you are not allowed to lock your door as long as anyone, even if only you are inside.

I was given keys to the medical room. I used my break and lunchtime to do so but you are entitled to other times to do it. I didn't want to make waves.

you are allowed rest periods in addition to these as a bfing/expressing mother. so things like no yard duty.

Look at the NASUWT website for more info to what you are entitled to.

<not as detailed as the lost one> so feel free to ask more.

crochetdiva Thu 10-Jul-08 21:18:12

Right, the union lady has done some research on my behalf, and following a longish conversation earlier this evening, this is the letter I've come up with:

Dear Headteacher,

I am writing to inform you of an issue surrounding my return to work next Friday. I am still breastfeeding, and therefore, an appropriate risk assessment needs to be undertaken in order that my milk supply is not compromised.

In order to maintain my milk supply, I will need to express twice during the working day. Therefore, I will need to access to a suitable room in which I can express milk for my daughter. I would also appreciate somewhere secure to refrigerate my expressed milk until I go home.

I appreciate that this will be difficult to organise by Friday, but, on Friday, as a temporary measure, I am willing to return home at the end of the morning session to express my milk. However, if I do this, given the short afternoon session, I would rather not return to school for that afternoon session.

There would, of course, need to be a more permanent arrangement by the start of the new term in September.

If you wish to discuss this further with me, then please do not hesitate to contact me at home.


One of the problems is that we don't have a medical room in school - that would be the easy option!

kiskidee Thu 10-Jul-08 21:58:33

oh, before i got the medical room, i had another room which i did not even know existed. there are some amazing places hidden in schools.

i never stored the ebm in the fridge either. too much of a faff afterwards to put in a fridge. I left it in a cupboard that was unheated so most of the year was fine. all this is up to you though.

kiskidee Thu 10-Jul-08 21:59:25

in a cupboard in which was connected to an o/s wall.

crochetdiva Fri 11-Jul-08 08:49:21

I know what you mean about wonderful and bizarre hiding places in schools ... I organise all the language speaking tests (for all 14 languages - it's a somewhat multi-cultural school grin), and have found cupboars, and offices I never could have imagined existed!

Thanks for your help kiskidee!

ruddynorah Fri 11-Jul-08 09:06:12

how old will our baby be by september? will you still be wanting to express then?

in all honesty i moved dd onto cow's milk at 11 months for the odd day time milk feed she had at that age.

crochetdiva Fri 11-Jul-08 09:15:49

DD will be 11 months in September - I'm holding off giving her cows' milk (and have steered clear of any ff) because I have horrendous allergies, and I would rather she wasn't exposed to the allergens in cows' milk just yet.

It won't be for a long period that I have to express, but I just know that my school would completely ignore the issue unless it's rammed down their throats!

asicsgirl Fri 11-Jul-08 13:22:37

crochet your school sounds cool with all those languages!

re storing ebm - i took a little cool bag to work with me and put it in there with a freezer block. it was fine. didn't fancy someone putting it in their coffee shock and our fridge is miles off anyway.

asicsgirl Fri 11-Jul-08 13:23:52

p.s. you are doing a v good job for any other bf-ing mums that come along after you by addressing this even if you won't need it for that long yourself. smile

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