You can breastfeed or bottle-feed a child in public, up to the age of 24 months. This is according to specific Scottish laws, such as the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland), Act 2005.
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You cannot also be discriminated against for breastfeeding a child in public, as per the Equality Act 2010, sections 17 and 18, up to 26 weeks. This UK law does not allow discrimination against pregnant women or mothers.
Anyone trying to stop breastfeeding in public with a child older than 24 months could be charged under the Equality Act 2010 with sex discrimination.
This page will explain what the law in practice means if someone attempts to stop you from breastfeeding.
You have the right to breastfeed in Scotland
If you are the parent of a child under 24 months old, you can breastfeed your child in public places or licensed premises (such as a bus or restaurant) as long as it is legal.
The Breastfeeding Act etc. This right is granted by the 2005 Act of Scotland.
Publicly, you are prohibited from feeding a child.
A criminal offense is when someone intentionally prevents you from feeding a child younger than two years old. It is also illegal to ask you to leave the premises or move to another area. Anybody trying to stop breastfeeding can be charged and, if found guilty of the charge, fined.
You may be able to help the police by gathering information. For example, the names of witnesses and the details they heard.
If someone attempts to stop you, you can complain to the manager at any place you are allowed to breastfeed.
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- Depending on what happened, you might want to take action against someone who harassed you.
- You want to stop or prevent someone from feeding a child in public
- You can stop someone from feeding a child in public if you don’t believe it is a good idea.
You will be charged with an offense if you attempt to stop someone from feeding the child if the child is less than 24 months of age and is legally entitled to do so. If the child is less than 26 weeks old, you may be giving the mother who is breastfeeding the possibility to bring civil action against your for discrimination in relation to her pregnancy and maternity status.
The law does not allow the mother to breastfeed if the child is more than two years of age. However, a court can rule that you have unreasonably discriminated against the mother or the child if you attempt to stop her from doing so. The Equality Act 2010 protects the mother and other caregivers from discrimination on grounds of maternity or pregnancy for 26 weeks following the birth. However, a court could decide that discrimination is still sex discrimination after 26 weeks.
Managers of food outlets where children are entitled to eat
Managers and employers are responsible for informing their employees about the right to breastfeed or bottle-feed a child in places where they have it. Section 3 of the Breastfeeding, etc. Act. (Scotland), Act 2005. Employers could be charged if a member or staff members unlawfully stop or prevent feeding.
Breastfeeding is not discriminated against
A woman can be protected from discrimination (Section 17 & 18 of the Equality Act 2010, for breastfeeding at work or in public during the first 26 weeks of a baby’s life). This is because women can be protected against discrimination and unfavourable treatment based on their status as mothers. If someone tries to stop you from feeding your baby after 26 weeks, they could be charged with sex discrimination.
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A woman who just had a baby has rights at work in relation to safety and health issues, and the right to not be treated unfairly.