The Executive Branch of the government has signed a decree requiring companies, both public and private, employing more than 30 women, to have to provide a space for women to breastfeed their child without risk, and/or the time and the place to express and store breast milk safely, without risk of contamination.

Breastfeeding room in Masxmenox supermarket in Paseo de la Flores, Heredia

Among the adequate measures that the lactation room should have are: a minimum physical space of six square meters and a height of two meters and forty centimeters. It must have a refrigerator of at least 38 liters capacity to conserve exclusively breast milk, a small table, at least two chairs with soft lining, back and armrests; a sink with liquid soap dispenser, trash can with lid and their respective plastic bags for garbage, screens or curtains or any division to ensure privacy between workers and proper air circulation; renewal of air through natural and/or artificial ventilation, by fan or air conditioning, natural and/or artificial lighting to ensure a brightness, cleaning plan, non-slip material floor and resistant structural conditions that allow easy cleaning, and meet with the accessibility provisions of Law N ° 7600.

Vice-president Ana Helena Chacón Echeverría said that “this is a historic debt that we are paying off, since it is an ethical imperative to guarantee women the best conditions.” The VP added, “this is another step towards strengthening the respect and fulfillment of women’s rights, in the face of situations of disadvantage or unequal treatment with men, in different social spaces, such as the workplace.”

Efforts to guarantee compliance with Article 100 of the Labor Code, in favor of the right of the working mother to have a place that meets the appropriate conditions, have been ongoing since 2012.

See the full presentation of regulations for lactation rooms (in Spanish).

The Minister of Labor and Social Security (MTSS), Alfredo Hasbum Camacho, said that “in paying off this debt to the mothers of our country, we not only enforce labor legislation, but we are encouraging the creation of spaces that meet the minimum sanitary conditions, and avoid exposure to atmospheres that present a high risk, danger of contamination for the mother, milk and extraction and conservation accessories and indirectly to your child.”

The Reglamento para las Salas de Lactancia en los Centros de Trabajo (Regulations for Breastfeeding Rooms in the Work Centers) must be implemented within a period of no longer than 12 months, once the decree goes into force. Failure to comply can result in the employer sanctioned with fines ranging from 1 to 23 base salaries of an “oficinista 1”.

The Minister of Health, Karen Mayorga Quirós, mentioned that “it is of the utmost importance to ensure the health of the mother and of minors. We must provide adequate and dignified spaces, in addition, we must guarantee the provisions of the decree, therefore, we must ensure this compliance.”

The decree was signed by the President Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera, Vice President Chacón, and as witness, the ministers of Labor and Health.