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What are my breast pumping rights in California?

If you are currently pregnant, congratulations! There is likely quite a bit on your mind about your life post-baby and how being a new mother will impact returning to work.

If you are choosing to breastfeed your baby, you will need a private place to pump when you are working. What is your employer required to provide in terms of breaks and a space to pump?

Lactation accommodations required by law

Every employer, including the state and any political subdivision, is required to provide a reasonable amount of break time for employees who need to express breast milk. If possible, employees should try to have this time run concurrently with already-provided breaks. Employers are not required to pay for any break that does not run concurrently with authorized rest time.

Rest breaks are defined as a net 10 minutes that begins when you reach the area appropriate for pumping.

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to provide you with the use of a room or other location, which is not a toilet stall, for breast pumping purposes. This location should be in close proximity to your work area. It can include where you already work if it meets the requirements. For instance, if you have a private office with a door that locks and no windows, or windows that have opaque blinds or curtains, this would be acceptable.

Employer's obligations

Employers are directed to encourage and support the practice of breastfeeding, and should not ask you to consider formula feeding for their convenience. They also cannot discriminate or retaliate against you because you have chosen to breastfeed.

Failure to provide you with a rest period requires the employer to pay you one additional hour of pay at your regular rate for each workday the rest period is not provided. This is one hour of pay for the workday, not for each missed rest period in a given workday.

If you return to work after your pregnancy and experience resistance, discrimination or retaliation as a result of your choice to breastfeed, talk to an employment attorney well versed in protecting pregnant employees to advocate for your rights.

The only concern you should have when you return to work after a pregnancy is making sure your baby is fed in the manner you have chosen.

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