On October 10, 2019, the Governor approved Senate Bill (“SB”) 142, which effective January 1, 2020, requires an employer in California to take various actions regarding employee lactation. As a preliminary issue, an employee is entitled to a reasonable amount of break time to express breast milk for the employee’s infant with, if possible, the break time running concurrently with any break time the employer is already providing to the employee. Below the main requirements associated with employee lactation accommodation are detailed.
An employer shall provide an employee with the use of a room or other location for the employee to express milk in private. The room or location may include the place where the employee normally works if it otherwise meets the requirements of this section. A lactation room or location shall not be a bathroom and shall be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, and free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk.
The lactation room shall comply with the following requirements:
- Be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials;
- Contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items;
- Contain a place to sit; and
- 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.
The employer is also required to provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s workspace and if a refrigerator cannot be provided, an employer may provide another cooling device suitable for storing milk, such as an employer-provided cooler.
There is a “hardship” provision for employers that employ fewer than 50 employees to be exempt from a requirement associated with the lactation room and related requirements if the employer can demonstrate that a requirement would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.
If the employer cannot provide a break time or a location in accordance with the law, then the employee shall be provided with a written response.
Duty to Develop and Implement a Lactation Accommodation Policy
Employers must develop and implement a lactation accommodation policy that includes all of the following:
- A statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation;
- The process by which the employee makes a request for lactation accommodation;
- An employer’s obligation to respond to the request for lactation accommodation; and
- A statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation of a right under this chapter.
The policy must be made available in either an employee handbook and/or in a set of policies made available to employees. The policy must also be provided to new employees upon hiring or when an employee makes an inquiry or requests parental leave.
For your convenience, a copy of SB 142 is included with this Legal Update.
Please contact our office with questions regarding this Legal Update or any other matter.
Legal Update written by Carl D. Corbin, General Counsel.
The information in this Legal Update is provided as a summary of law and is not intended as legal advice. Application of the law may vary depending on the particular facts and circumstances at issue. We, therefore, recommend that you consult legal counsel to advise you on how the law applies to your specific situation.
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 Labor Code § 1030.
 Labor Code § 1031(a).
 Labor Code § 1031(b).
 Labor Code § 1031(c).
 Labor Code § 1031(d).
 Labor Code § 1031(i).
 Labor Code § 1034(d).
 Labor Code § 1034(a).
 Labor Code § 1034(b).
 Labor Code § 1034(c).