Emily Sanchez Salcedo
De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines
Year: January 2015
Volume: 24 No. 2
There are four main differences between the Philippine and American statutes that promote breastfeeding. First, the Philippine law provides that lactation breaks should be compensated while the American law explicitly stated that employers are under no such obligation. Second, the Philippine law provides for “culturally appropriate lactation care and services” whereas majority of American states exempt breastfeeding from public indecency laws. Third, the Philippine law makes a conclusive statement that breastfeeding “enhances mother-infant relationship”. The American law wisely left such matter to individual realization. Fourth, the Philippine law puts the right of a mother to breastfeed on equal footing with the right of her child to her breast milk. American law prudently refrained from creating an adversarial contest between the rights of women vis-à-vis the rights of their children. Meantime, the duty to accommodate breastfeeding in the Canadian workplace is much broader in scope than a superficial directive to establish lactation stations. Instead, it includes within its purview the flexibility of allowing extensions of maternity leave and/or adjustment of work schedules and the liberality of bringing infants to the workplace so that they may be breastfed by their working mothers. The misplaced benevolence of paid lactation breaks is nowhere indicated for this will certainly step into the bounds of undue hardship that shields an employer from the duty to accommodate. In not so many words, the nature and extent of accommodation of breastfeeding in the workplace has a significant impact on the ability of every working woman to fulfill her family responsibilities without forfeiting her employment opportunities. Keeping it at bare minimum will readily result in reduced options after childbirth. Unguarded generosity, on the other hand, will not do women any better. The key lies in striking a good balance, an elusive quest that deserves to be given much greater thought.