Guide to Pregnancy & Breast/Chestfeeding Accomodation

Click here to access the Guide to Pregnancy & Breast/Chestfeeding in PDF.

Duty to Accommodate

Under the B.C. Human Rights Code, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person or to harass them on the basis of sex, which includes pregnancy and breast/chestfeeding, in the areas of employment, housing, and services.

Discrimination due to pregnancy and breast/chestfeeding includes discrimination because a person:

  • Is trying to get pregnant, was pregnant, or states they are intending to have a child.
  • Will be taking a pregnancy or maternity leave.
  • Has an abortion or experiences complications related to an abortion.
  • Has a miscarriage or stillbirth or experiences complications related to a miscarriage or stillbirth.
  • Experiences complications related to pregnancy or childbirth.
  • Has a change in appearance while pregnant.
  • Is recovering from childbirth.
  • Is receiving fertility treatments.
  • Is nursing, pumping, or expressing milk.

An employer, landlord, or service provider may have to change its rules, requirements, or practices in order to give pregnant and breast/chestfeeding individuals equal opportunities. This is called accommodation.

Employers, landlords, and service providers should not deny accommodation because other pregnant or breast/chestfeeding individuals have not requested accommodation. They should also not impose changes on pregnant or breast/chestfeeding individuals who have not requested accommodation (such as modified duties, modified hours, or alternative work), based on assumptions about pregnancy or breast/chestfeeding

Responsibilities of SFU

SFU has a legal duty to accommodate needs based on pregnancy and breast/chestfeeding, unless it would cause undue hardship to SFU. All accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis; no specific form of accommodation is guaranteed. The following (non-exhaustive) list contains possible accommodations that may be available where reasonable, depending on your functional limitations and the needs of your team or program:

  • Temporary relocation to another work station or work location.
  • Assignment to alternative job duties.
  • Modifying work or exam schedules.
  • Additional breaks, which may be paid time for employees, for activities such as breast/chestfeeding, milk expression, more frequent bathroom breaks for pregnancy-related reasons, or additional nutritional breaks due to pregnancy-related nausea or gestational diabetes.
  • Providing a comfortable, clean, dignified, and appropriate area for breast/chestfeeding or milk expression and storage of breast/chest milk.
  • Allowing the baby to be brought into the workplace, a designated space, or a classroom to be breast/chestfed.
  • A leave of absence.

Your Responsibilities

If you require accommodation based on pregnancy or breast/chestfeeding, you have responsibilities to:

  • Request accommodation at the earliest possible opportunity (as it may not be possible to accommodate last-minute requests).
  • Provide information and any documentation that is reasonably requested.
  • Engage in dialogue regarding your request and be open to considering alternative forms of accommodation.
  • Accept reasonable accommodation even if it is not entirely ideal or your preferred accommodation. There is no legal obligation to provide exactly what is requested.
  • Be open to ongoing dialogue and adjustments to the accommodation arrangement as circumstances change.

The law sets a limit as to how far SFU must go to accommodate your needs. If SFU would experience undue hardship in order to accommodate your needs, it has no legal duty to accommodate. In assessing whether an accommodation would cause undue hardship, factors such as cost and health and safety may be considered.

Bona Fide Requirements

There may be situations where a decision, rule, requirement, or practice results in discrimination based on sex, but is nonetheless justified because it is reasonable and bona fide (legitimate) in the circumstances. For more information on bona fide requirements, please refer to the following guides:

How To Request Accomodation

If you are an SFU staff or faculty member, accommodation requests relating to pregnancy or breast/chestfeeding should be submitted to your manager or supervisor using this application form. Your manager or supervisor will submit your application to the Interim Accommodation Committee, who will decide what accommodations will be granted.

If you are an SFU student, accommodation relating to pregnancy or breast/chestfeeding should be arranged directly with your instructors or the applicable office. If you need assistance, please contact the Human Rights Office for support.

Students should generally coordinate breast/chestfeeding into their class schedule as appropriate. They may also choose to breast/feed in class so long as the child’s behavior is not disruptive (for clarity, the act of breast/chestfeeding is not considered disruptive), and breast/chestfeeding is not done during formal evaluations (such as tests or exams) or where doing so poses a health and safety risk to any individual. If the duration or scheduling of an exam interferes with breast/chestfeeding, students may request an accommodation from their instructors.

Lactation Rooms

The SFSS Women’s Centre offers a private, clean, comfortable, and safe space on campus for individuals to breast/chestfeed or express breast/chest milk. The SFSS Women’s Centre is located in Room 2220 in the Student Union Building on the Burnaby campus. This space is available to all members of the SFU community, including employees. Please visit their webpage to view their hours of operation and their contact information.

The SFU Childcare Society also offers space to all members of the SFU community to breast/chestfeed or express breast/chest milk. They are located at the Burnaby campus. Please visit their webpage to view their hours of operation and their contact information.

You are also welcome to breast/chestfeed or express breast/chest milk in any other appropriate area on campus, provided that it is safe to do so (e.g. away from any hazardous substances or dangerous equipment).


If you have any questions or concerns, the Human Rights Office provides confidential and impartial advice, support, referrals, and information to students, faculty, and staff on all issues related to human rights. Contact us or visit our Get Help page for additional resources.

If you are an SFU staff member, you are also encouraged to contact your Strategic Business Partner for advice and support.