Providing lactation period and station to breastfeeding and nursing employees

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Persida Acosta

Dear PAO,
My wife just delivered our first baby. We have been married for six years and we have been wanting to have a child, so we are truly ecstatic about the birth of our son. My wife decided that she will breastfeed our son but she is already getting anxious to go back to work after her maternity leave. She fears that she may not be able to continue breastfeeding our son at work. I just want to know if the private company where she works is required to allow her to breastfeed during office hours, and if there should be a place designated for that purpose. Your advice will be highly appreciated.
Manny

Dear Manny,
With the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 10028, or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, private enterprises and even government agencies, including their subdivisions and instrumentalities, and government-owned and -controlled corporations, are mandated, among others, to provide lactation periods to breastfeeding or nursing employees so as to give them the opportunity to breastfeed or express milk at work. Such period should not be less than a total of 40 minutes for every eight-hour working period and shall be counted as compensable hours worked. (Section 7, [new Section 12], Ibid.)

Duration and frequency of such breaks may be agreed upon by employees and employers, with the minimum period of such breaks being 40 minutes. Nevertheless, your wife as well as other breastfeeding or nursing employees must inform their respective immediate supervisors before leaving their station to breastfeed or express milk. (Section 12, Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10028)
Apart from the grant of lactation periods, private and government institutions are required to provide lactation stations that are suitable for nursing or expressing milk but in no case shall it be located in the toilet. According to Section 6 [new Section 11 under Chapter III]of RA. 10028, these lactation stations must have “x x x necessary 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” Further, these lactation stations must be “x x x clean, well ventilated, comfortable and free from contaminants and hazardous substances, and shall ensure privacy for the women to express their milk and/or in appropriate cases, breastfeed their child. x x x” [Emphasis supplied] (Section 10, Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10028)

Private establishments may be granted exemption by the Secretary of Labor and Employment from establishing lactation stations pursuant to Section 8 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of RA 10028 and Department Order No. 143, Series of 2015 of the Department of Labor and Employment. If, however, the private company where your wife is employed is not among those which have been granted exemption, then she must be allowed to express milk at work once she returns to her post, otherwise sanctions enumerated under Section 16 of RA No. 10028 may be imposed upon her employer.


Again, we find it necessary to mention that this opinion is solely based on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. The opinion may vary when the facts are changed or elaborated.

We hope that we were able to enlighten you on the matter.

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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