Many California women who return to work following maternity leave are still breastfeeding their babies. This practice requires them to spend some time every few hours pumping and then safely storing their expressed milk. However, at certain work sites it can be difficult to find a place to pump in private. What rights are available in California for breastfeeding mothers?
A recent change in legislation focuses on working mothers who are nursing their children. This new California law, Senate Bill No. 142 (SB-142), requires employers to provide time and specific accommodations for this subgroup, as well as informing them of them of their right to express breast milk at work. The law mandates access to electricity, along with a private lactation room or similar location with a nearby refrigerator or cooler and sink. And, employers cannot discriminate against employees for exercising their rights under this law.
According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that for a six-month period, mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively. Many women head back to their jobs during that time and it can be hard to find a location to pump and store. This is why legal protection is so beneficial for new mothers. The paper also reported that this state law is more specific than the federal Affordable Care Act, which mandates merely a non-bathroom location and time for pumping. SB-142 improves upon the safety and cleanliness of the space.
Enacting a law to define these accommodations is important because it sets a minimum standard for lactation practices. And, providing a designated dignified location for pumping and a safe method of storage reduces stress among this subcategory of working women.