WHAT’S NEW IN 2020 FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Higher Workplace Standards to Assist Lactating Moms

Since 2002, California has required employers to provide their lactating employees with reasonable time and adequate space to express breast milk.  Effective January 1, 2020, Senate Bill (SB) 142 requires a clean, private and safe workplace location for the activity and a written lactation accommodation policy.  Significant penalties apply for non-compliance.

Private room or location requirements:

Employers must provide lactating employees with a room or location that * can no longer be a bathroom; * is shielded from view and free from intrusion while expressing milk; * is safe, clean and free of hazardous materials; * contains a place to sit and a surface to place personal items; * has access to electricity or alternative devices needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump; and * provides access to a sink and refrigerator (or other cooling device) in close proximity to the employee’s workspace.

Employer exemptions:

Certain employers, particularly those in multi-employer worksites, may be excused from some of the above room/location requirements. Additionally, employers with less than 50 on payroll may qualify for an undue hardship exemption in limited circumstances (e.g., if any of the lactation room requirements would cause significant difficulty or expense).  However, all exempted employers must still make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a private room or other location other than a toilet stall to express milk.  See, Labor Code 1031(i).

Mandatory policy:

Newly-added Labor Code 1034 further requires employers to develop and implement a lactation accommodation policy that contains:

  • An employee’s right to request such accommodation and how to make the request;
  • The employer’s obligation to respond to the request; and
  • An employee’s right to file a complaint with the California Labor Commissioner for any alleged violations.

Employers must distribute the policy to new employees upon hiring and whenever an employer makes an inquiry about or requests parental leave.

Penalties for non-compliance:

The Labor Commissioner may cite employers for denial of reasonable break time or adequate space to express milk and impose civil penalties of $100 for each day the employer is in violation. Failure to comply with the above break time or adequate space requirements also constitute Labor Code section 226.7 rest break violations. See, Labor Code 1033(a).

For further assistance in complying with the new laws, please contact Tim Bowles, Cindy Bamforth or Helena Kobrin.

See also,

Cindy Bamforth

January 17, 2020