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Le Clerc & Le Clerc LLP
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California's Employees

Can you request time during the day to pump breastmilk when you return from maternity leave?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination

Breastfeeding provides many important benefits for both babies and their mothers.⁠ Both UNICEF and the World Health Organization recommend that mothers breastfeed their babies.⁠

California has important laws in place to protect and support mothers who wish to pump breastmilk for their babies during their working hours.

What are lactation breaks?

The law requires employers in California to provide lactation breaks, periods of time during the work day for nursing mothers to pump breastmilk. Employers must provide a private area where you can pump. It must shield you from view and be relatively free from intrusion; the private area cannot be a toilet stall.

How long will your break be?

Your employer must allow a reasonable amount of time to pump, but this vague standard does not have a strict time limit. An appropriate break will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The number and frequency of breaks you need
  • Time to walk back and forth to the space, wait if necessary, pump and refrigerate the expressed milk
  • Time to retrieve your pump, set it up, and clean and store it when you finish
  • Time for you to wash up and return to work

What if your employer doesn’t want you to take a lactation break?

If you wish to pump breastmilk when you return to work, you should let your employer know in writing. Employers cannot legally retaliate against you by punishing, firing, or treating you unfairly for exercising your legal right.

California supports breastfeeding mothers who wish to return to work by providing legally required lactation breaks. Taking advantage of this opportunity can help you take care of your baby while you successfully transition back to work.