BREASTFEEDING IN THE WORKPLACE

In Costa Rica, the post birth breastfeeding period is a right given to the minor by law, that has repercussions in the employment relationship once the employee returns to work. This is why it’s important that the employer knows and understands the rights and duties that rule the professional relationship during this period of time.

There are many norms that regulate the rights of the mother and minor during this period; for example, the Political Constitution of Costa Rica, the American Convention on Human Rights, the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention No.111 of the ILO, the Labor Code, the Law of Promotion of Maternal Breastfeeding, and the Code for Children and Adolescents.

According to the norms mentioned above, the employer has the following obligations:

  • Give the employee an hour a day for breastfeeding or to pump breast milk. The allocation of that hour can be distributed in two periods of 30 minutes, or in four periods of 15 minutes every three hours. This decision must be negotiated between the employee and the company.
  • All employers who employ more than 30 women are required to refurbish a space for the mothers to breastfeed and ensure the safety of the child. The refurbishment can be simple and within the economic possibilities of the employer, and has to be approved by the General Labor Inspectorate in accordance with Decree N. 41080-MTSS-S.
  • During her breastfeeding period, the employee enjoys a special protection known as maternal immunity, which prohibits the employer from firing her, while she is still breastfeeding, except if an authorization is granted by the Ministry of Labor.

To enjoy her rights, the employee has the obligation to present a medical certification or record from the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) proving she is in her breastfeeding period.

Limits to the breastfeeding period

With regards to the length of the breastfeeding period, it is important to note that there is no legal maximum term and, therefore, the breastfeeding period can be extended, as long as it is supported by a medical evaluation, certifying the need for it.

COLBS LEGAL ESTUDIO- LABOUR LAW DEPARTMENT