What are the laws for breastfeeding at work?
Not all families can afford a good caretaker, or have help from family, to take care of their baby and there are some women who would go to the extent of bringing their infant to work with them because they have used up all of their 60 days of maternity leaves, as stated in the Employment Act 1955. As sweet as it is to have a child in your arms and attract many adoring colleagues, there comes a time when it becomes extremely stressful – juggling between deadlines, meetings, diaper changes and feeding time.
However, the law does not cover breastfeeding specifically. What are the laws about breastfeeding at work? Are there laws for such a thing?
Is it illegal to breastfeed at work?
Fortunately, the answer is no. Under Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), employers are to grant female employees who are nursing mothers within the first year of conceiving their child, fair break times to express milk (pump out breast milk), whenever they may need to. There must also be a designated place (non-permanent) for the mother to express her milk and shield herself from the eyes of others, which does not include toilets, store rooms and even ‘suraus’. Should your employer only provide you with the toilet as your designated space to express milk, this would mean that the law has been violated and a complaint can be filed.
Can I be paid during Break Times to Express Milk?
To be fair to employers so that working mothers do not take advantage of these break periods to slack off work, it is not necessary for employers to compensate them for the extra break times that they take. Also, if your company has less than 50 employees, the laws for nursing mothers may not apply, should these laws that are implemented, prove to bring uncontrollable burdens to the employer. Otherwise, these laws should be followed.
Will I be fired for taking too many Breaks to Express Milk?
Though the law does not cover breastfeeding specifically, no employer is allowed to fire a female employee for taking breaks to express milk. By following the legal system, certain courts have made known that discrimination against breastfeeding employees will not be tolerated. Granting female employees the right to breastfeed is like allowing male employees to take regular cigarette breaks between working hours. So long as no one takes advantage of the company’s leniency and work will not be affected. Those facing such discrimination may file a complaint to the Ministry of Human Resources.
There are still many gaps in the law for breastfeeding at work that may cause some arguments in the workplace. However, both the employer and the employee must practice empathy in trying to be understanding of the existing situation. While employers may suggest for female employees who are breastfeeding within the first year to take unpaid leaves, these female employees too must also not take advantage of these given breaks to do anything other than expressing milk while letting work pile on.
Learn & earn your rights as parents with Mama Net. Download & register to the Mama Net App today!