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Can you pump breast milk at work when you return from maternity leave?

On Behalf of | Aug 25, 2022 | Workplace Discrimination

Breastfeeding can be a bonding experience for both mother and baby, as well as provide health benefits to the baby. Both the World Health Organization and UNICEF recommend that all mothers try to breastfeed their babies for as long as possible.⁠

If you wish to pump breast milk for your baby after your return to the workplace, California has important laws in place to support and protect you.

What is a lactation break?

A lactation break is a set time period during the work day where nursing mothers pump breast milk. California law requires employers to provide lactation breaks, as well as a private area where you can pump. This area must provide enough privacy to shield you from view and be free from intrusion; it cannot be a toilet stall.

How long will your break be?

The law calls for a reasonable amount of time to pump but does not specify a time limit. What is appropriate depends on many factors, including:

  • The frequency of breaks you will need
  • The distance between the break room and the refrigerator
  • The time it takes to retrieve, set up and clean & store your pump
  • The time you need to freshen up afterward

What if your employer discourages lactation breaks?

Employers cannot discourage breastfeeding and cannot legally retaliate with punishments, threats of dismissal or unfair treatment. Expressing breast milk is your legal right.

California provides many supports to allow breastfeeding mothers who wish to return to work to pump breast milk, helping them to achieve a positive work-life balance.



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