Saturday, December 3, 2011

On Women and the Workplace: The Need for Breastfeeding Centers (Part 1)

Being a working mom is a tough act. Unlike most freelance jobs, being one is, in essence, handling two full-time jobs at the same time, which entail extreme flexibility, lots of multi-tasking, and 24/7 availability.

But how do working moms manage, considering that the demands of the household do not pause from 9 to 5 and resume thereafter? Is the typical workplace in the Philippines friendly to mothers who breastfeed and bear the burden of losing a much-needed nanny?

So I ran a quick survey on one of my Facebook group's wall and subsequently, received some interesting answers.

Some of these answers include the following:
  • a day care unit for our children
  • a vendo machine for napkin, tissue, etc. 
  • [if it] offers additional sick leaves for dysmenorrhea days
  • a "breastfeeding room" with deep freezer or ref where breastfeeding working mommies can privately pump and store breast milk

Section 22 of RA 9710, known as the Magna Carta of Women, impels the State to provide--
support services that will enable women to balance their family obligations and work responsibilities including, but not limited to, the establishment of day care centers and breastfeeding stations at the workplace, and providing maternity leave pursuant to the Labor Code and other pertinent laws.
In conversations with former and current women employees of some government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCC) such as the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and the Social Security System, I learned that day care centers catering to the children of their employees were established from way, way back. In addition, in one of my trips to another GOCC, the Securities and Exchange Commission, I saw that a breastfeeding center for lactating moms is set up right beside their infirmary.

The Case for Breastfeeding

While it is good to note that the government walks its talk, notwithstanding the fact that the said centers were built prior to the ratification of the Magna Carta, the private sector still has a long way to go in providing similar services. Optimistically, June Isis Evasco writes about the increasing support for breastfeeding in the workplace in an article published on Evasco lists down the names of companies/organizations providing lactation facilities here.

Said initiatives should actually be replicated in other offices, following the provision stipulated in RA 10028 or the Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009, which mandates all government, non-government agencies, institutions, and establishments to put up "lactation stations" that are compliant with the standards set by the Department of Health. Additionally, the law provides rewards to abiding companies with tax incentives that can be up to twice the cost of the station.

Some organizations may be exempted though, in instances when the establishment of a breastfeeding center is simply not feasible, like when there are only a few female employees and when the office space is simply limited. But this does not mean that nursing moms can no longer express milk during office hours. In fact, employers are obliged by the Expanded Breastfeeding Act to grant their nursing employees "lactation periods" of not less than 40 minutes per eight-hour work day, on top of the lunch and coffee breaks already being provided.

To learn more about  Your Breastfeeding Rights, click here.

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment