You have the right to express breastmilk at work. Most employers in California are required to provide you with a private room and a reasonable amount of break time to pump at work.
If I want to pump at work, what type of accommodations does my employer need to provide?
Your employer is required to make reasonable efforts to provide you with a private area to pump breast milk. A "private area" means a place that is shielded from view and free from intrusion by supervisors, coworkers, and the public. The area must be in close proximity to your work area and should not be a bathroom.
How many lactation breaks am I allowed to take?
Your employer is required to give you a reasonable amount of break time to pump. The law doesn’t specify an amount of time, but federal regulations advise employers to provide 2-3 breaks during an 8-hour shift and sufficient time for the nursing parent to walk to the designated space, wait for use of the space, set up the pumping equipment, retrieve the milk, clean the equipment afterwards, and store the milk.
Are my lactation breaks paid?
Not necessarily. While your employer must allow you break time to pump, they are not required to compensate you for that time. However, if your employer already offers paid breaks and you use those paid breaks to pump, your time should be paid as usual. For example, if you usually receive a 15 minute paid break, and you take 20 minutes to pump, your employer must pay you for the first 15 minutes but is not required to pay you for the last 5 minutes.
How long can I pump at work?
The law allows you to take lactation breaks to express milk for an “infant child,” but doesn’t define infancy for these purposes. Courts are likely to find the right to take lactation breaks for 1-3 years.
Can my employer require me to submit a doctor’s note to prove I need to pump at work?
No. Your request for lactation accommodations triggers your employer’s obligation to provide you with a private area and break time. You don’t need to submit any proof that you’re lactating.
Is my employer required to provide me with refrigerator to store the milk?
No. At this point, there’s no law in California mandating that an employer provide employees with storage space for their milk.
What if I work in an agricultural setting?
You still have lactation rights, even if you work in an agricultural setting without traditional office space. In this circumstance, your employer must provide you with a private, enclosed, and shaded space, such as an air-conditioned cab of a truck or tractor.
Can I bring my baby to work with me so I can breastfeed?
It depends. In California, you have the right to breastfeed your child in any location – other than someone else’s private home– in which you and your child are authorized to be. But, employers do not have a legal obligation to permit parents to bring their children to work. If your employer does not allow children in the workplace, then you don’t have a right to breastfeed at work.
Are there exceptions to these requirements?
Yes. If an employer can demonstrate to the California Department of Industrial Relations that these requirements would impose an undue hardship or cause a serious disruption, then the employer will be granted an exemption to the rule. Even with the exemption, the employer must still make reasonable efforts to provide a room or location for pumping milk that is not a toilet stall.
Can my employer harass, discriminate, or retaliate against me for taking lactation breaks?
Absolutely not. You have the right to take lactation breaks, and it is against the law for your employer to harass, discriminate, or retaliate against you for requesting or taking breaks.
What can I do if I believe my rights have been violated?
If your employer refuses to provide you with a room to pump or with lactation breaks, you can file a complaint with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), and the US Department of Labor (DOL).
You can also contact us if you have any more questions or believe your rights have been violated.