Breastfeeding-Friendly Workplaces May Soon Be the Law in California
If you’re a new mom navigating the challenges of returning to work, chances are you’ve already looked into the logistics of pumping at the office. You know the spiel: Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act says that in companies of 50 employees or more, women have the right to reasonable break time to express milk in a private place that’s not a bathroom for baby’s first year. Of course, there are no provisions saying it has to be comfortable or convenient. A California bill is looking to change that.
If the bill passes, California employers would be required to provide a private lactation room with the following amenities:
- A place to sit
- A table
- A refrigerator
And to make sure moms aren’t tasked with awkwardly asking their bosses about creating a pumping schedule, companies would be required to give new hires copies of a policy guaranteeing access to a lactation room.
“This ensures that new mothers can make their own decisions on their timetable for returning to work, rather than having that decision made for them,” Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said while introducing the bill on Monday.
Existing offices would be permitted to convert a private room into a lactation space with just a couch, table and nearby access to water and a refrigerator. But new construction over 15,000 square feet would be required to build lactation facilities into the design. Companies that truly can’t financially swing a lactation room would be allowed to apply for a hardship exemption.
Weiner expects to draw a lot of support for his bill. Plus, precedent shows its provisions are feasible, at least on a smaller scale: San Francisco recently enacted a similar ordinance.