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California recently passed Bill SB 142 which significantly expands the requirements for lactation accommodation at work. This new law, signed by Governor Newsom in October 2019, will become effective on January 1, 2020. Here is a summary of some of the new requirements.
Currently, employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of time for a mother to pump milk, this can be during and in addition to any break time that is already provided by the employer. The new law requires that employers allow mothers to take a break each time a mother needs to express milk.
The new law adds additional requirements for the lactation room. Under current law, employers need to provide a private room other than a bathroom for mothers to pump milk in that is close to the employer’s work area. SB 142 adds that the room must be
A lactation room or the location must be shielded from view, and free from intrusion while the employee is expressing milk.
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 needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump.
Provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator or a cooling device suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s workspace.
Where a multipurpose room is used for lactation, such as a shared wellness room, the use of the room for lactation needs to take precedence over the other uses, but only for the time it is in use for lactation purposes.
Penalties for Violations
SB 142 also specifies that denial of reasonable break time or a place to pump milk is a violation of Labor Code Section 226.7. This means that an employer who fails to comply will be required to pay an additional hour of the employee’s regular pay for each workday that the violation occurred. The business may also be imposed a civil penalty of $100 for each day of the violation. Discrimination or retaliation of an employee for exercising their rights under SB 142 is unlawful.
Employer Lactation Policy
The new law requires businesses to implement a lactation policy that includes
A statement about an employee’s right to request lactation accommodation.
The process by which the employee makes the request
An employer’s obligation to respond to the request
A statement about an employee’s right to file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner for any violation of the law.
The policy needs to be in an employee handbook and given to newly hired employees and when employees ask about parental leave. If an employer cannot provide break time or a location that complies with the law, then they need to provide a written response to the employee.
Companies should review their lactation program before the new law goes into effect in January to make sure they meet the new requirements. If you find that you need to make changes to your lactation rooms or workplace policies, Healthy Horizons Corporate Services can help you make changes and setup a program that will set your business up for success.
Note: The above is a summary. Please refer to the full bill for official information.