New Breastfeeding Policy

October 18, 2019

CONGRATULATIONS Breastfeeding Advocates! Because of your support, SB 142 and AB 752 were signed by Governor Newsom. A total of 261 organizations and 104 individuals submitted letters of support during the life of the two bills. This demonstrates that as a statewide coalition of passionate people like you, we can improve the breastfeeding landscape of support in California. If you would like to be more directly involved in our advocacy work, please join the Breastfeeding Action Network here.

AB 752 Establishes Lactation Rooms at Certain Transit Stations 

This law requires certain transit stations in Bakersfield, Oakland, Los Angeles, Stockton, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego and Fresno to include a lactation room if any construction or renovation begins on or after January 21, 2021.

You can read the entire law here.

SB 142 Strengthens Lactation Accommodation in the Workplace

The new law further protects the rights of employees who need to express milk at work and puts new requirements on employers. Our current lactation law was strengthened in the following ways:

  1. States that the employee can express milk each time they have the need to express milk.
  2. Aligns with federal law:
    • The room or location must not be a bathroom. It must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area, shielded from view, and free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk.
    • All employers must provide lactation accommodations regardless of size, but an employer that employs fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from if it 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.
  3. Requires that employers with fewer than 50 employees that can demonstrate undue hardship, still have to make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.
  4. Establishes standards for a lactation room or location:
    • Be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials
    • Contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items.
    • Contain a place to sit.
    • 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.
  5. Requires an employer to provide access to a sink with running water.
  6. Requires an employer to provide access to a refrigerator suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s workspace. If a refrigerator cannot be provided, an employer may provide another cooling device suitable for storing milk, such as an employer-provided cooler.
  7. Requires that if a multipurpose room is used for lactation, the use of the room for lactation shall take precedence over other uses for the time it is in use for lactation purposes.
  8. Gives permission for an employer in a multitenant building or multiemployer worksite to share a lactation space within the building or worksite if the employer cannot provide a lactation location within the employer’s own workspace.
  9. Requires an employer or general contractor coordinating a multiemployer worksite to provide lactation accommodations or provide a safe and secure location for a subcontractor employer to provide lactation accommodations on the worksite.
  10. Allows for temporary lactation locations due to operational, financial, or space limitations.
  11. States that an employee who is denied proper lactation accommodations may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner.
  12. States that employers cannot discharge, discriminate or retaliate against an employee for requesting lactation accommodation. Employees may file a complaint with the Labor Commission for any of these actions by an employer.
  13. Requires an employer to develop and disseminate a written lactation accommodation policy that needs to include:
    • A statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation.
    • The process by which the employee makes the request for lactation accommodation.
    • The employer’s duty to respond, in writing, if the employer cannot provide break time or a location that complies with the employee lactation accommodation policy.
    • A statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation of a right under this law.
  14. Requires an employer to include the lactation accommodation policy in an employee handbook or set of policies that the employer makes available to employees.
  15. Requires an employer to distribute the lactation accommodation policy to new employees upon hiring and when an employee makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave.
  16. Requires an employer to provide a written response to the employee if an employer cannot provide break time or a location that complies with the lactation accommodation policy.

You can read the entire law here.

In the next few months, be on the lookout for a sample policy template and a webinar to discuss the new law.