California employers should be aware that Labor Code Sections 1030, et. seq., provide a number of rules about lactation accommodation in the workplace. Specifically, employers are required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for the employee’s infant child. The break time should, if possible, coincide with the employee’s paid break time. If that cannot be accomplished, then the break time need not be paid.
In addition to the break requirement, the Labor Code states that employers shall make reasonable efforts to provide employees with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, for the employee to express milk in private. This room should be in close proximity to the employee’s work area. The room can be a place where the employee normally works if it is private.
The only exception to these requirements is that an employer is not required to provide unpaid break time if to do so would seriously disrupt the employer’s business operations. This is a high standard for any employer to meet; employers should therefore consult with legal counsel before refusing to accommodate a lactating mother.
Employers that violate these sections of the Labor Code are subject to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation.