Current California breastfeeding law requires employers to provide a reasonable amount of break time to employees desiring to express milk for their infant child. Current California breastfeeding law also requires employers to employers to make reasonable efforts to provide the employees with the use of a room or other location, other than a toilet stall, in close proximity to the employees’ work area, for the employee to express milk in private.
Now, SB 937 would require a lactation room or location to include prescribed features and would require an employer to provide access to a sink and refrigerator in close proximity to the employees’ work space.
This is important because in spite of the current California breastfeeding law, many working parents don’t have access to workplace breastfeeding support, including proper lactation accommodations. California Department of Public Health data indicates that, currently, only half of working parents have workplace breastfeeding support.
When I returned to work three months after giving birth to my first child, I had to pump in the restroom. When there was a line in the restroom, I pumped in my car. When the weather was too warm or the pump battery was too law, I sat on the floor under my office desk to pump, covering by a jacket. Some male colleagues claimed that I distracted them by sitting under my desk. Later a female colleague helped me to hide in the company storage to pump. It’s dirty in the storage and there were dead cockroaches on the floor, but I am forever grateful for her help.
What I don’t appreciate was that my previously employer shamelessly claimed that the storage with dead roaches was “a separate office that company arranged for nursing moms” when I alleged them not providing reasonable breastfeeding accommodation. That just disgusted me.
SB 937 would prevent things like this by requiring “the lactation spaces shall be at least 50 square feet, have at least one electrical outlet, have access to a sink with hot and cold running water, and shall be located no more than 500 feet from the farthest employee workspace or within two adjacent floors.”
There were hearings for the bill April 11, 17 and 24 in Sacramento. According to Legal Aid At Work, a non-profit organization sponsoring the bill, the bill has made it out to all committees, but still have a long way to go.
California Department of Public Health data shows that parents with support are two times more likely to exclusively breastfeed at three months. Evidence shows that prolonged breastfeeding benefits both maternal and infant health. New parents should not have to give up breastfeeding in order to return work. Women who choose to breastfeed should not have to worry about access to a clean, private space to pump milk. No mom should have to fear negative consequences at work just to feed their babies. Let’s support SB 937 for the health of California families!