WHAT IS YOUR LACTATION LOCATION? « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


San Francisco Workplace Ordinance – Directs Time and Space for Nursing Mothers

San Francisco is the first California city to enact an ordinance requiring private employers to provide lactation breaks and rooms to employees who are nursing mothers.

Effective January 1, 2018, all non-governmental employers under San Francisco’s “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance” must provide breaks for expressing breast milk, concurrent with existing rest breaks required by applicable California wage order, if possible.  If not taken at the same time, the lactation break can be unpaid.

Affected employers must provide a “Lactation Location”: a room other than a bathroom, specifically designated for lactation purposes, close to the employee’s work area, free from intrusions and shielded from view. It must have a place to sit, a surface where the employee can place needed items, access to electricity, and be clean and safe.  The employee also must have nearby access to a sink and refrigerator.

This room may be multi-purpose, with the company notifying employees that lactation accommodation takes priority.

Such employers must implement a written policy informing workers of the rights to request lactation accommodation, to a required interactive process to address the request, and to be free from ensuing retaliation. Affected businesses must provide that policy to all new employees and to any existing employee who asks about pregnancy or parental leave.  The policy must be included in the company’s workplace policy manual, if any. Employers shall keep records of all such requests and responses for three years.

For the first year, the San Francisco Department of Public Health will issue warnings and notices to employers found in violation of the ordinance. Starting in 2019, it will impose penalties up to $500 for each violation.

An employer who can demonstrate operational hardship due to the size, financial resources, nature or structure of the business will be eligible for an exemption.  Examples given in the ordinance are: having to build a room, or remove seating or retail floor space.

More guidance, recommendations, samples and notices shall be provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Health website before January 2018.

For other San Francisco labor ordinances, see:

For more information, please contact one of our attorneys Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

Helena Kobrin

August 9, 2017