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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pumping Restraints on your type of Job

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Sometime in May, I came upon an article about a receptionist in New York who was fired for pumping at work. Actually, she was permitted to pump up until her child was 1 year old (although NY state law allowed moms to pump for up to 3 years after baby's birth). She wanted to continue and was eventually fired (even before her child turned 1).
This article made me think about the Pinay working moms who are restricted from pumping because of their type of job. I'm talking about bank tellers, security guards, janitors, receptionists and the like. These employees are required to be on their posts the entire time they are on duty. How about a shop girl who is the only person in a store? If you haven't noticed, a lot of boutiques, mail shops, laundry shops are manned by only 1 person. Will the shop girl be closing the shop during the 15-20 minutes break she uses to pump? Probably, these employees could choose to pump at the workplace (near the cash register or telephone perhaps) and just wear a nursing bib. Hmm.... how to entertain customers who walk in while the shop girl is pumping though?
The pertinent provision in the law reads as follows:

Sec. 12. Lactation Periods. - Nursing employees shall 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.
I'm glad to see that the law clearly states that the pumping break includes the time for the employee to get to and from the lactation station. This certainly will encourage employers to set-up accessible stations. At my workplace, the lactation room is about a 5-8 minute walk each way. Interestingly, the provision clearly states that the pumping break is considered as compensable hours worked.
However, my sister (a manager) pointed out that the passage of Republic Act No. 10028 didn't quite help her as she had to clock in a certain number of hours per day. Thus, she can take all the time she wants to express milk but that would mean extended office hours. Similarly, I remember at my old job, we had to complete daily time sheets and list down at least 6.5 billable hours per day. Billable hours excluded reading emails, administrative work and would certainly exclude pumping hours. Thus, for these types of employees, the provision doesn't seem to help as they would be staying in the office longer to make up for the milk-expression time.
The law was signed on 16 March 2010 and the responsible agencies are tasked to come up with the implementing rules and regulations within 120 days after effectivity date. It is now almost 4 months and we are still waiting for the issuance of the implementing rules and regulations. I was informed that the deliberations for the IRR will be starting at the end of this month. Maybe the recent change in administration was the reason for the delay? But I do hope that the IRR be released soon to give employees the basis to ask for lactation periods and rooms at their workplaces.

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