• Employers should provide lactation period, station unless exempted by DoLE

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    I am 25 years old and have given birth to a bouncing baby girl about five months ago. I have been completely breastfeeding my daughter since she was born, but I am beginning to worry on whether I can continue my breastfeeding journey once I go to work. I was recently hired to be a part of a private firm. To be honest, I would rather stay at home and care for my daughter. But I have to make a sacrifice and work fulltime, like most working mothers out there, so that I can help my husband with our family’s finances. I would like to ask you if the private firm that hired me is required to give provisions for mothers like me who wish to express milk. I will appreciate any advice you can give. Thank you and best regards.
    Frances

    Dear Frances,
    Our lawmakers recognize the importance of breastfeeding as it is a journey of its own that is shared especially by the mother and her child. That is why regulations relating to breastfeeding have been strengthened through the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009.

    Pursuant to Section 4 in relation to Section 6 (new Section 11) of RA 10028, all private enterprises as well as government agencies, including their subdivisions and instrumentalities, and government-owned and controlled corporations, are required to establish lactation stations. These stations must not be located in the toilet. In addition, there must be adequate equipment and facilities, such as “lavatory for hand-washing, unless there is an easily-accessible lavatory nearby; refrigeration or appropriate cooling facilities for storing expressed breastmilk; electrical outlets for breast pumps; a small table; comfortable seats; and other items, the standards of which shall be defined by the Department of Health. x x x” (Section 6, new Section 11, RA 10028). Moreover, there should be no signage or any form of information within the station that would promote or market infant formula and/or breastmilk substitutes. (Ibid.)

    Apart from providing lactation stations, companies and/or agencies are required to provide lactation periods. It is expressly stated under Section 7 (new Section 12) of the law:

    “Nursing employees shall [be]granted break intervals in addition to the regular time-off for meals to breastfeed or express milk. These intervals, which shall include the time it takes an employee to get to and from the workplace lactation station, shall be counted as compensable hours worked. The Department of Labor and Employment [DoLE] may adjust the same: Provided, That such intervals shall not be less than a total of forty [40] minutes for every eight [8]-hour working period.”

    Companies and/or agencies may apply from the Department of Labor and Employment for exemption from complying with the foregoing rules if “x x x the establishment of a lactation station is not feasible or necessary due to the peculiar circumstances of the workplace taking into account, among others, the number of women employees, physical size of the establishment and average number of women who will use the facilitv.”The grant of exemption is valid for two years and may be renewed. (Section 8, Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10028)

    Accordingly, your employer must comply with the foregoing standards set under RA 10028, unless it has applied for exemption and has been granted the same by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, as aforestated.

    We hope that we were able to answer your queries. Please be reminded that this advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated.

    Editor’s note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney’s Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to dearpao@manilatimes.net

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