San Francisco may be known for its steep hills and streetcars, but it’s quickly becoming the best city for working mothers and families. Last year the city implemented a paid parental leave ordinance and in 2018 the new Lactation In The Workplace Ordinance goes into effect that requires all employers in the city to provide a dedicated space for expressing breast milk at work. If you’re not sure what the ordinance requires or how to be in compliance, we’ve identified four key things you need to know and do.
The San Francisco ordinance builds on federal and California state protections, but extends them to include a more comprehensive approach to supporting working mothers.The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 2010 mandates that employers with more than 50 employees provide nursing mothers with reasonable break time to pump milk at work, as well as a private and dedicated lactation space (that’s not a bathroom). Similarly, California State law mandates break time and a dedicated space. The San Francisco ordinance is far more detailed and specific about what employers need to do, from having a written lactation plan to dedicating an appropriate lactation space.
1) Write A Lactation Accommodation Policy
Lactation policies don’t need to be long or cumbersome, but having one in writing is a critical tool to clearly communicate your policy and ensure you’re in compliance with the San Francisco ordinance.
- Include a brief statement that your workplace supports the rights and needs of breastfeeding employees
- Summarize the legal requirements of the ordinance
- Create a protocol for requesting lactation accommodations, as well as a prompt response. The San Francisco DOH provides a model.
- Describe the process of identifying break time and compensation (if applicable)
- Identify available lactation spaces that are primarily designated for pumping
- Discuss the lactation accommodation policy with employees prior to maternity leave
- Create a protocol for mothers to file complaints if they experience harassment or other forms of discrimination in the workplace based on their decision to pump
2) Keep All Records Of Lactation Accommodation Requests
Keep all requests for lactation accommodations for three years. Be sure to include the employee’s name, date, and a summary of how the request for lactation accommodations was met.
3) Provide A Clean And Private Space
The San Francisco ordinance goes further than either the Federal FLSA or California state law to specify that lactation spaces need to:
- be clean and free of hazardous materials
- have a place to sit
- have a surface for a breast pump
- include electrical outlets
- have easy access to a refrigerator and sink
4) Create A Timeline For Compliance
The ordinance will be enforced by the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) and include administrative penalties. For 2018 OLSE will only issue warnings, but starting January 1, 2019, penalties will be $500 per violation and employers who fail to comply may be fined up to $50 per day.
Did you know that mothers are the fastest growing segment of the workforce? Having a robust lactation policy is key to recruiting and retaining new employees, In addition, research shows that supporting breastfeeding women in the workplaces reduces absenteeism and increases employee morale, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.
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