• Putting up a breastfeeding station in a restaurant

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    Persida Acosta

    Dear PAO,
    My family recently put up a restaurant in our town. Since we are just new in the business and our personal savings are the only source of funds to get the restaurant running, we want to comply with all government requirements, especially those needed for a breastfeeding station, which would be part of the restaurant (most of our employees are women). I was designated to ensure such compliance and I have chosen a spot where the breastfeeding station will be located. I am not sure, however, what needs to be placed there. I hope you can advise me on this particular matter. Thank you and more power.
    Edward

    Dear Edward,
    As mandated under Republic Act (RA) 10028, or the Expanded Breastfeeding Promotion Act of 2009, all private enterprises as well as government agencies, including their subdivisions and instrumentalities, and government-owned-and-controlled corporations must establish lactation stations and provide lactation periods to breastfeeding or nursing employees. (Section 4 in relation to Sections 6, [new Section 11]and Section 7, [new Section 12], Id.)

    As defined, lactation stations are “private, clean, sanitary and well-ventilated rooms or areas in the workplace or public places where nursing mothers can wash up, breastfeed or express their milk comfortably and store this afterward. x x x” (Rule II, Section 5, Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 10028). As a rule, this area should not be located in the toilet. (Rule II, Section 6, [new Section 11], Id.) It must have “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.” (Ibid.) Note that these are just the minimum requirements set under the law in the establishment of lactation stations. You may provide other appropriate equipment, facilities or services that you deem may be additionally beneficial to your nursing or lactating employees. All these may be considered eligible for your business’ availment of tax incentives should the same be duly substantiated. (Ibid.)

    We also advise you to refrain from placing materials that promote or may tend to promote formula feeding. As expressly stated under the second paragraph of Section 6, [new Section 11]Rule II of the IRR of RA 10028:

    “x x x all health and non-health facilities, establishments or institutions shall take strict measures to prevent any direct or indirect form of promotion, marketing and/or sales of infant formula and/or breastmilk substitutes within the lactation stations, or in any event or circumstances which may be conducive to the same.”

    Once you have set up the foregoing, you may proceed to your local government unit and apply for a “working mother-baby friendly” certification. THis certification will come in handy when you intend to apply for your business’ availment of tax incentives before the Bureau of Internal Revenue. (Sections 14 and 15, Id.)

    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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