Public Breastfeeding Law
§ 3518. Breastfeeding; prohibition of discriminatory practices.
(a) Public policy
(1) It is hereby confirmed as the public policy of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, through the Department of Health, and in accordance with the public policies established by the Department of Health and Human Services of the United States; the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the importance of increasing the breastfeeding practice. The Surgeon General of the United States recommends that newborn children until the age of one (1) year be breastfed, except if it has been medically contraindicated, to propitiate that children achieve an optimal health condition from the time of their birth.
(2) It has been shown that breast milk provides a better nutrition and higher immunity against diseases, is better to digest, and may increase the children’s IQ. Some sectors of society are against the promotion of breastfeeding. Likewise, the demands of modern life force new mothers who have a busy work schedule to choose formula or artificial milk to feed their babies. On occasions, some mothers are ashamed and even fear social repudiation or criminal accusation if they breastfeed their children in public.
(3) It is hereby declared that the promotion of family values and the health of infants demands that our society put a stop to the vicious cycles of shame and ignorance of men and women regarding breastfeeding, and in the genuine interest of promoting family values, our society shall encourage public acceptance of the most basic natural act between a mother and her child. This Legislature rejects that any mother should feel discriminated for breastfeeding her child.
(b) The right to breastfeed Notwithstanding any contrary precept of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any public or private recreational place.
(c) Breastfeeding, prohibition of discriminatory practices Any direct or indirect act of exclusion, alienation, restriction, segregation, limitation, rejection, or any other act or practice of differentiation, including denying a person the total enjoyment of goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, and accommodations in any public or private place which she attends, whether it is visited by the public or used for recreation, based on the fact that a mother is breastfeeding her child, shall constitute a discriminatory practice prohibited by §§ 3518–3518b of this title.
(d) Breastfeeding is not a violation of the law A mother breastfeeding her child in any place, whether public or private, where she is otherwise authorized to be, shall not be deemed as indecent exposure, obscene act or other punishable action established in similar sections that comprise these conducts in §§ 4629 et seq. of Title 33, better known as the “Penal Code of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico”, or any legal precept of penal or civil nature.
(Apr. 23, 2004, No. 95, § 1; Sept. 19, 2007, No. 121, § 1.)
Any person who exposes any intimate part of his/her body in any place in which another person is present, including law enforcement officers, who can be offended or upset by such exposure, shall incur a misdemeanor.
This conduct does not include the act of breastfeeding an infant.
Any person who incurs in discriminatory practices against a woman due to the fact that she is breastfeeding her child in any of the places specified by §§ 3518–3518b of this title, or who prohibits, prevents or otherwise limits or inhibits a woman from breastfeeding her child in such places, shall incur in misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be subject to a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) at the discretion of the judge of the Court of First Instance of the General Court of Justice of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. In addition, the judge may order restitution according to § 4689 of Title 33.
Furthermore, a cause for civil action for damages is hereby established against any natural or juridical person who interferes with the exercise of the rights recognized by §§ 3518–3518b of this title.
(Apr. 23, 2004, No. 95, § 2; Sept. 19, 2007, No. 121, § 2.)
Workplace Pumping Law
All employers shall guarantee to all working mothers who so request, the right to breastfeed their children or to express breast milk. Once the schedule to breastfeed or to express breast milk is agreed upon between the breastfeeding mother and the employer, it shall not be changed without the express consent of both parties.
(Dec. 16, 2000, No. 427, § 8, renumbered as § 7 and amended on Nov. 6, 2006, No. 239, § 4.)
(5) Special breastfeeding leave with pay
(a) Breastfeeding mothers shall be granted the time so that, after having enjoyed their maternity leave, they have the opportunity to breastfeed their babies, for half (1/2) an hour within the full-time work day, which may be distributed into two (2) fifteen (15)-minute periods each. This benefit shall be granted for those cases in which the agency has a child day care center within its facilities and the mother is able to go to said center in which the baby is, to breastfeed him/her, or to express milk in a place habilitated for such purposes within the workplace.
(b) Within the workplace, the breastfeeding period shall have a maximum duration of twelve (12) months, to be counted as of the date the employee returns to her functions.
(c) Employees who wish to use this benefit shall present to the agency a medical certificate, during the period corresponding to the fourth (4th) and the eighth (8th) months of age of the infant, vouching for the fact and certifying that she is breastfeeding her baby. Said certificate shall be presented not later than five (5) days into each period. Provided, That the agency shall designate an area or physical space that guarantees the privacy of the breastfeeding mother, as well as her safety and hygiene, without this entailing the creation or construction of physical or organizational structures, contingent upon the availability of resources of the government entities. Agencies shall establish regulations on the operation of said breastfeeding areas.
§ 478a. Period to nurse or express breast milk.
The period granted to breastfeed or to express breast milk is hereby regulated by granting working mothers who return to work after enjoying maternity leave the opportunity to nurse their children for an hour during each full-time working day, a period which may be divided into two (2) thirty (30)-minute sessions or three (3) [twenty] (20)-minute sessions, to go to where the child to be breastfed is being cared for, should the company or employer have a child care center in its facilities, or to express breast milk at the place provided for such purposes in the workplace.
In the case of businesses considered as small businesses in accordance with the size regulations of the Small Business Administration (SBA), these shall be bound to provide a period of half (1/2) an hour during each full-time working day for breastfeeding mothers to breastfeed or express breast milk which may be divided into two (2) [fifteen] (15)-minute periods.
(Dec. 16, 2000, No. 427, § 3; Nov. 6, 2006, No. 239, § 2.)
§ 3696. Complaints; fines.
The Office of the Women’s Advocate is hereby empowered to receive, handle and settle complaints filed for violations of the rights established in this chapter. Any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall entail a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500), nor of more than five thousand dollars ($5,000).
(Aug. 10, 2006, No. 156, § 7, eff. 6 months after Aug. 10, 2006.)