What Protections Do You Have As A Nursing Mother Returning To Work In California

What Protections Do You Have As A Nursing Mother Returning To Work In California

Returning to work after having a baby can be a stressful time for a new mom, particularly if you wish to continue maintaining your milk supply so that you can continue nursing.  It is important to know what your rights are in the workplace as a nursing mother.  Protections increased effective January 1, 2020, after Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 142 into law. 

The bill provides the following protections:

  • When you return to work after having a baby and wish to express breast milk, your employer must provide you with a reasonable break time and a private place to express milk.
  • You may use your scheduled break time to pump.  However, if you need additional time, your employer must provide additional unpaid break time to do so.
  • The private place must be in close proximity to your work area and must be safe, clean and free of hazardous materials.  It must contain a place to sit and a surface to place the breast pump.
  • You must have access to electricity or alternative devices, including, but not limited to extension cords or charging stations needed to operate an electric or battery powered breast pump.
  • Your employer must also provide access to a sink and refrigerator to store the milk.  If a refrigerator is not feasible, your employer should provide another cooling device, such as a cooler.

Employers with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from compliance with the above requirements if the employer “can demonstrate that the requirement would impose an undue hardship by causing significant difficulty or expense in consideration to the size, financial resources, nature or structure of the employer’s business.”  If the employer can demonstrate that providing a room or other location, other than a bathroom, would impose such undue hardship, the employer should make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location other than a toilet stall.  

If an employer fails to comply with an adequate space or reasonable break time, it could result in fines of $100 per day imposed by the Labor Commissioner, in addition to any fines or penalties for missed meal or rest breaks.  

Employers are now required to have a written policy that includes instructions on how an employee can request an accommodation to express breast milk.  Employers must provide a copy of the policy to its employees upon hire and when an employee asks about parental leave.

If you have been denied the ability to continue lactating after returning to work, Salusky Law may be able to help.  Please reach out for a free consultation, or submit the form below.

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