Amendments to California Lactation Accommodation Requirement Now Require More Than A Bathroom

Cheng, David - 300dpi
David Cheng

Beginning January 1, 2019, California now imposes broader requirements on employers for providing lactation accommodations to employees needing to express milk for their newborn children. 

Prior to the amendment, California permitted employers to provide a private location, other than a toilet stall, for an employee to express milk for an infant child, and provide employees with a reasonable amount of break time to do so.  As a result, some employers accommodated employees by permitting them to use a bathroom as a private lactation location.  Under the amendment, however, the Golden State now mandates that the private location be some place other than a bathroom, unless the requirement creates an undue hardship to the employer’s operations.

The amendment also outlines specific requirements an employer must meet to designate a temporary (as opposed to permanent) location for lactation accommodations.  Specifically, to meet those obligations, the employer must show:

  1. Operational, financial, or space limitations render the employer unable to provide a permanent lactation location;
  2. The temporary location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk;
  3. While an employee expresses milk, the temporary location is used only for lactation purposes; and
  4. The temporary location otherwise meets the requirements of state law for lactation accommodation.

The amendments are expected to require many employers to find new alternative locations for employees to express milk.  In addition to the above changes to the law, the law still requires the private location to be near the employee’s work area and afford the employee privacy.  An area where the employee normally works may be appropriate if it otherwise meets the requirements set out by the law.

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