Tag Archives: lactation accommodation

NEW LAW – New York City To Require Lactation Rooms

Attention New York City employers, under a new law (Int. 879-A and Int. 905-A), which takes effect on March 18, 2019, employers with 4 or more employees will be required to provide “lactation rooms” for breastfeeding employees to express milk in the workplace.  In addition, employers must develop a written policy relating to lactation accommodation that must be provided to all employees and all new employees upon hire.

The City Commission on Human Rights will be developing a model policy that employers can use.

NEW LAW: California Expands Existing Lactation Accommodation Law

California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 1976 into law.  This new law amends California’s existing lactation accommodation law and places new responsibilities on employers.

Under the old lactation accommodation law (California Labor Code 1030, et. seq.), an employer was merely required to do the following to accommodate the nursing mother:

  • provide a reasonable amount of break time, which should, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee; and
  • make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employee’s work area, for the employee to express milk in private.

Under the new law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2019, the employer’s obligations are greatly expanded.  The first change is that the law makes it clear that the employer must provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a bathroom, that is close to the employee’s working space to privately express milk.

The law also permits an employer to makes a temporary lactation location available to an employee, provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • The employer is unable to provide a permanent lactation location because of operational, financial, or space limitations.
  • The temporary lactation location is private and free from intrusion while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location is used only for lactation purposes while an employee expresses milk.
  • The temporary lactation location otherwise meets the requirements of state law concerning lactation accommodation.

The new law also addresses how agricultural employers can meet the new requirements.  Specifically, the law states that an agricultural employer shall be considered to be in compliance with this law if the agricultural employer provides an employee wanting to express milk with a private, enclosed, and shaded space, including, but not limited to, an air-conditioned cab of a truck or tractor.

It is recommended that all California employers review their policies and procedures with respect to accommodating nursing mothers to verify that they will be in compliance with the new law come January 1, 2019.

NEW LAW: Illinois Amends the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act

On August 21, 2018, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 1595 into law.  This new law amends the Illinois Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act and expands the legal protections afforded to nursing mothers in Illinois.  The amendments to this law took immediate effect.

Under the existing law, Illinois employers with 6 or more employees are required to grant “reasonable unpaid break time” each day to an employee needing to express breast milk for her infant child.

The amended law makes the following changes to the existing law:

  • Employers are required to provide “reasonable break time” (instead of “unpaid break time”) each time an employee needs to express milk for one year following the child’s birth.
  • The “reasonable break time” may run concurrently with existing break time provided to employees (the original law provided that break time “must, if possible” run concurrently with other breaks).
  • Employers are prohibited from reducing an employee’s compensation for time spent for the purpose of expressing milk.
  • Employers must prove that an undue hardship exists in order to avoid providing the required breaks. “Undue hardship” is defined as an “action that is prohibitively expensive or disruptive” when considering its nature and cost, the overall financial resources of the facility, the overall financial resources of the employer, and the type of operation of the employer.

It is recommended that all Illinois employers review their lactation accommodation practices and ensure that they comply with the new law.

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.