Lactation Accommodation Rule Changes

Women who are expressing milk while at work will be getting a longer list of accommodations starting in 2020. In California, employers are already required to allow women to express milk as needed during their work day, but those regulations are now being clarified and the “lactation location” is being more defined with the passage of SB142:

  • Place should be private so that milk can be expressed without intrusion
  • Should not be a bathroom
  • Running water and a sink should be available to the employee
  • Has a surface (such as a counter or table) where lactation equipment can be placed
  • Within a close proximity of the employee’s work area
  • Provides electricity for plugging in/ charging of equipment
  • Provides nearby refrigeration for expressed milk

California’s Department of Industrial Relations offers further guidance of the current law:

1.  Q.  Does an employer have to provide an employee with additional break time to express breast milk?
  A.  Yes, an employer must provide additional break time to employees who need it.
2.  Q.  Does an employer have to pay for the additional time to express breast milk?
  A. No. While the employer must allow an employee to leave the work area to pump, the employer does not have to pay for pumping time, beyond the standard break time.
3.  Q.  Can my employer demand a doctor’s note or other medical documentation?
  A.  No. Your employer cannot require you to submit any documentation regarding your need to express breast milk.
4.  Q.  Does my employer have to provide me with a place to express breast milk?
A.  Yes, your employer must make a reasonable effort to provide you with the use of a room or other location other than a bathroom and in close proximity to your work area. This may include the place where the employee normally works if it otherwise meets the requirements.

To continue reading, please visit note, the rules will get more detailed in 2020. This government site is talking only about current rules as of October 2019.

An article by the law firm of Fisher Phillips provides a nice summation of the law’s regs for providing a “lactation room”, which includes the following:

Second, the new law provides that a lactation room must:

  • Be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials, as defined;
  • 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…

Fourth, the new law provides that, where a multipurpose room is used for lactation among other uses, the use of the room for lactation shall take precedence over the other uses, but only for the time it is being used for lactation purposes.

Want to read more? Visit

There are some exceptions for certain employer hardships and for employers with less than fifty employees, but it doesn’t alleviate from all of these regulations.

All of this raises the question of whether you have your employee policies set in writing to prevent any confusion about your company’s rules and procedures. Are you a California business or ministry looking for an employee handbook? If so, learn more about Custom Employee Handbooks.


(This article provides an overview of certain federal, state, or local laws. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice by New Wind. We do not provide any legal advice, financial advice, or tax advice. Please see an appropriate professional for such services.)

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