World Breastfeeding Week -- Make Sure You Comply With Legal Requirements For Providing Employees With Reasonable Accommodations

August 1-7 marks World Breastfeeding Week. It is well established that breastfeeding is beneficial for both mom and baby. As an employer, ensure you are providing breastfeeding mothers with appropriate resources.

Both state and federal law provide protection to pregnant and nursing mothers. Specifically, California Labor Code 1030 requires employers, including the state and political subdivisions of the state, to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate breastfeeding mothers (this can run concurrently with other break time and additional break time can be unpaid). However, employers are not required to provide breaks if it would "seriously disrupt" the operations of employers.

Additionally, Labor Code 1031 requires employers to make a reasonable effort to provide breastfeeding mothers with the use of a room/location to express milk in private, except a bathroom stall, in close proximity to the employee's work area.

Employers should encourage their employees to notify them in advance in order to address scheduling and make arrangements for the accommodations.

It is important for employers to understand their legal requirements to provide accommodation for breastfeeding employees. Employers who fail to provide reasonable accommodations may be subject to investigation and prosecution of complaints by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing for gender discrimination, a citation from the Labor Commissioner for violation of the Labor Code, and/or civil penalty.

The California Department of Public Health's website also has more information on breastfeeding for both employers and employees.