Becoming a mother brings joy and new responsibilities, especially if you are nursing. Balancing work and the needs of your child can be a complex challenge. In California, recognizing the importance of this balancing act, legislators have put laws in place to protect the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace. These laws ensure that mothers can continue to provide for their infants while maintaining their careers.
Understanding your rights as a nursing mother in California can help ease the transition back to work and ensure that you and your employer are on the same page.
Right to adequate break time
In California, you have the right to take reasonable break time to express milk as often as needed. Your employer must accommodate these breaks, and although these breaks are generally unpaid, you can use paid break time if it coincides with the time you need to express milk.
Right to a private location
Your employer must provide a private location for you to express milk. This space must be close to your work area and cannot be a bathroom. The space should ensure the nursing mother does not face intrusion or view from coworkers or the public. The area should be safe, clean and functional, allowing you to express milk comfortably.
Right to a reasonable effort from the employer
Your employer must to make a reasonable effort to provide you with the above accommodations. If providing a permanent lactation space would cause undue hardship to the employer, they must make a temporary space available. This space must still meet all the requirements of a permanent lactation space.
Right to no discrimination or retaliation
You also have the right to be free from discrimination or retaliation for exercising your rights as a nursing mother. If you request accommodations or take breaks to express milk, your employer cannot discriminate against you or take any adverse employment actions.
Navigating these rights can make the transition back to work smoother and more comfortable, allowing you to focus on your job and your child without unnecessary stress or worry.