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California expands protections for nursing mothers at work

Progress can be slow and incremental in our society. This is especially true for breastfeeding mothers in the workplace. While parental leave has rightfully received recent attention, there has also been a push to help mothers once they return to work.

A new law taking effect in January 2020 will provide mothers who must pump milk during the day with further protections in the workplace. The new changes aim to reduce absences and increase worker productivity and job satisfaction.

Beginning next year, employers must provide:

  • A private and separate room for pumping breastmilk.
  • A refrigerator primarily used for storing breast milk or the space and electricity for you to bring your own refrigerator.
  • A sink with running water.
  • A place for you to sit and place your breastfeeding items.

Employers get a grace period

The writers of the law figured that most employers may need a few days to obtain the proper accommodations. Your employer will have five days to respond to your accommodation request and must make a reasonable attempt to honor that request. If you work in a building that shares offices with multiple companies, multiple employers may share the designated lactation room if the room meets the other conditions.

Private and comfortable

You’ll notice a theme in this law and it’s that mothers who breastfeed at work should have a clean and comfortable space to pump or nurse. The new law should provide mothers like you with overdue required accommodations to make your return to work after parental leave easier.

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