Tag Archives: California Labor Code

NEW Law – San Francisco Expands Protections for Nursing Mothers

On June 30, 2017, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee signed the “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance”. This new law expands the protections provided to nursing mothers under California (and federal law) for nursing mothers employed within the “geographic boundaries” of San Francisco.

What’s required under California and federal law?

The California Labor Code requires employers to provide employees who are nursing mothers with a private location and a reasonable amount of time to express breast milk during the workday. The private location cannot be a bathroom and it must be shielded from view and free from intrusion. Employers are also required to make a reasonable effort to provide a private, secure, and sanitary room or other location where an employee can express her breast milk that is in close proximity to the employee’s work area.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires employers to provide employees who are nursing mothers with “reasonable break time” to express breast milk during the workday for at least one year after the child’s birth. Like California law, the FLSA requires employers provide a private location that is not a bathroom for this purpose.

What does the Ordinance require?

The Ordinance requires that employers provide a “lactation location” that:

  • Is safe, clean, and free of toxic or hazardous materials;
  • Contains a surface upon which to place the breast pump and personal items;
  • Contains a place to sit; and
  • Has access to electricity.

In addition, the employer must provide the employee with access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator that is in close proximity to the employee’s workspace. Finally, if a “multi-purpose room” is used also for lactation, the use of the room for lactation takes precedence over other uses.

In addition, employers must also implement a lactation policy that meets the following requirements:

  • The policy must include a statement about the employee’s right to request a lactation accommodation and the process for requesting an accommodation.
  • The policy must be included in the employee handbook.
  • The policy must be distributed to
    • New employees upon hiring and
    • When an employee inquires about or requests parental leave.

Employers must respond to an employee’s request for a lactation accommodation within 5 business days of receipt of the request and, if the employer cannot provide break time and/or a location that is compliant with the ordinance, the response must be in writing.

Employers must also maintain a written record of these requests for 3 years from the date of the request.

Recommended action for employers

The new ordinance goes into effect on January 1, 2018. It is recommended that all San Francisco employers review these requirements and verify that they are able to comply with these new requirements.

Court Finds Employer Must Pay Employee’s Cell Phone

The Ruling

Employer ordered to pay employee’s personal cell phone bill.  The Second District, California Court of Appeal made a surprising ruling in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.:

“We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills. Because the trial court relied on erroneous legal assumptions about the application of section 2802, we must reverse the order denying certification to a class of 1,500 service managers in an action against Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. (Home Service) seeking, inter alia, reimbursement of work-related cell phone expenses.”

Facts of the Case

A class of customer service managers claimed that Schwan’s refusal to reimburse employees for personal cell phone use violated California Labor Code section 2802, subdivision (a), which states in part:

“[a]n employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer[.]”

Schwan’s customer service managers used their personal cell phones while servicing various customer accounts.  Schwan knew that these managers used their personal phones and made no effort to curtail the use of personal cell phones or to reimburse employees for using their personal phone.

The Court found that Labor Code section 2802 always requires an employer to reimburse an employee for reasonable expenses of the mandatory use of a personal cell phone.  The Court reasoned that failure to reimburse results in the employer receiving a windfall by passing on operating costs to the employee.

Employer Take-Away

Prepare concise procedures for cell phone use for work-related purposes.  If you don’t want to supply a company phone for your employees to use, make sure that the expectations of use and reimbursement of personal cell phones is crystal clear.