In October 2017 we announced the approval of Law 19,530, which regulated the installation of Maternal Breastfeeding Rooms (hereinafter, Chambers) in Public Organizations and public and private companies. Now we report that on July 30th, Decree 234/018 regulating the Law was passed.
The purpose of the rule is to guarantee the right of every woman to breastfeed or to pump her milk in suitable conditions of hygiene and privacy during her period of lactation, once she returns to her work or educational institution. In this sense, the organizations must create private well- conditioned spaces so that women working there can either breastfeed their children or milk themselves and store and keep it in proper conditions until the end of their work shift.
I. Scope of application.
Public Organizations and public and private companies in which twenty or more women work or study, or the total amount of employees is fifty or more, must install Lactation Rooms with the conditions established by the regulating rules.
The Law also provides that those organizations that do not have the number of people required for the implementation of the Chambers but have at least one woman in breastfeeding period, must assure her or them all the mechanisms guaranteeing the use of a space destined to breastfeed, pump or store breast milk.
The Decree also specifies that the women included are those in the 15 to 49 years age group.
II. Characteristics of the Chambers.
The Chambers must provide privacy, safety, availability of use, comfort, hygiene and easy access for those who use them to ensure adequate breastfeeding, as well as the pumping and preservation of breast milk. For this purpose, the Decree provides a set of conditions that every Breastfeeding Room must have. As an example, among other characteristics, it is indicated that they must:
- Be in a completely independent physical area, properly identified, separated from the hygienic services and from places where toxic substances or waste are handled.
- Provide privacy, for which purpose openings must close correctly and present elements that avoid inward visibility.
- Be available for use throughout the time when the workplace or study is operational.
- Have at least one armchair or a chair with backrest made of easily washable materials.
- Have a sink or lavatory with running water either inside the room or at no more than 10 meters, as well as a soap dispenser and a hand drying system.
- Have a conservation system for the pumped milk, ensuring the cold chain, either a deep freezer, freezer or refrigerator, exclusively for use in the chambers and located 20 cm from the floor and with its own outlet.
- Ensure hygienic conditions through daily cleaning of the chamber and its furniture, whose surfaces must be made of easily washable materials, including a bin for waste with lid and pedal.
The same conditions are required in spaces for breastfeeding in those organizations that do not have the required number of people to install a breastfeeding room but have at least one woman in breastfeeding period.
III. Implementation of chambers in certain buildings.
In buildings that have a breastfeeding room for the public, the Decree establishes that the workers who work there will have priority in the use of the Room.
Likewise, buildings where several employers develop their economic activity and individually considered do not have the minimum number of workers required by article 2 of Law N ° 19,530, must also have a room for common use of all the workers of said building.
IV. Implementation of chambers in secondary and/or technical education centers.
In educational centers the room will be of common use for students and workers who are in breastfeeding period.
For the purposes of the implementation of breastfeeding rooms in those institutions, only the number of workers will be considered regardless of the number of students attending them. However, if the number required for the installation of the Chamber is not reached, the provisions of Article 4 of Law No. 19,530 and Article 3 of this Decree must be strictly observed, both for workers and students.
V. Responsibility concerning pumped and stored milk.
The working woman or student will be responsible for the extraction tools and the handling of the extracted milk, its proper labeling and its removal.
VI. Communication of the chamber implementation.
The installation of chambers must be reported to the Ministry of Public Health, in accordance with instructions that will be prepared for this purpose. When required, this Ministry will send the list of chambers to the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
VI. Modification of article 3 of the Decree dated June 1st, 1954.
The aforementioned article has now the following wording: "If the worker breastfeeds her child, she is authorized to interrupt her work for that purpose, for two periods of half an hour each or a period of one hour at her choice within of her daily work, which will be counted as effective work. The reference doctor of the health institution that the worker attends, will set the duration of the breastfeeding period."
In short, the Decree covers what up to now was taking place in practice: the family doctor of the woman determined the breast-feeding period.
VII. Obligations of employers and teachers.
Employers must comply with the provisions of Article 3 of the Decree dated 1st June 2006, authorizing the interruption of work and guaranteeing the worker time for breastfeeding regardless of the intermediate rest.
Teachers and those in charge of educational institutions must ensure the use of time for breastfeeding, allowing the interruption of the educational schedule.
Montevideo, August 2018