Exclusively Employment Law

Taking Lactation Breaks at Work in California

by | Aug 29, 2018 | Reasonable Accommodation

Under both federal and California law, employers must provide a break period to accommodate an employee who wants to express breast milk for her infant child (“lactation break”). Below is additional information about the right to lactation breaks in California:

No. 1: A lactation break is an unpaid break period.

No. 2: The lactation break must be for a “reasonable amount” of time. With regard to what “reasonable” means in this context, the U.S. Department of Labor (the “DOL”) has noted that the act of expressing milk alone normally takes about 15 to 20 minutes. In addition to the act of expressing milk, however, the DOL has stated that employers should also consider other factors in determining what constitutes a “reasonable” break period, including (a) the time it takes to walk to and from the lactation space; (b) whether the employee must retrieve her pump and other supplies from another location; (c) whether the employee must unpack and set up her own pump or if a pump is provided for her; and (d) the time it takes for the employee to store her milk in a refrigerator or personal cooler. See Federal Register, Volume 75, No. 244, Pages 80073-79, “Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers” (December 21, 2010).

No. 3: An employer must make reasonable efforts to provide the employee with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, near the employee’s work area for her to express milk in private. The room or location may be the place where the employee normally works as long as it satisfies the other requirements.

No. 4: An employer is not required to provide an employee with a lactation break if doing so would seriously disrupt the employer’s operations.

No. 5: If an employer fails to provide an employee with a lactation break, the employer must pay the employee one additional hour of pay at the employee’s regular rate of pay for each workday that the lactation break is not provided.

No. 6: If an employer retaliates against an employee for requesting a lactation break or for complaining to the Labor Commissioner about her employer’s failure to provide a lactation break, the employee may file a retaliation claim with the California Labor Commissioner within six months of the retaliation.

If you believe that you are being denied lactation breaks, call 916-612-0326 or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Folsom, Roseville, Granite Bay, and Elk Grove.

The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.