Lawmaker wants California businesses to provide lactation rooms for breastfeeding moms

FILE ART - Women breastfeed on the steps of San Francisco City Hall. A lawmaker wants to require California workplaces to provide lactation rooms.

  State Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco, on Monday announced legislation that would require California workplaces to provide lactation facilities and resources to new mothers who are breastfeeding.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed similar legislation, known as the Lactation Ordinance, in June requiring all employers within the city to accommodate breastfeeding mothers who need to pump milk.

Wiener's legislation was inspired by the San Francisco ordinance, which was authored by Supervisor Katy Tang and went into effect in the city on Jan. 1.

 "When women are able to return to work and receive reasonable accommodations-such as lactation facilities-they advance and keep pace with their male counterparts," Wiener said in a statement. "By contrast, when women are effectively discouraged from working, they fall behind, and gender inequity is the result."  

In a statement Tang said, "For many women living in a place as expensive as California, it is not a choice, but a necessity, to go back to work to provide for their families."

Wiener's legislation, SB 937, would require that California businesses provide lactation facilities for their workers, that lactation facilities be built in new construction and would ensure that employees 
receive information about their rights to such facilities.

Furthermore, the bill requires that the facilities not be placed within restrooms, must provide access to running water and refrigeration and must include seats, a table, ample space and privacy, according to Wiener's office.

Employers who can't offer lactation spaces may apply for an undue hardship waiver with the Labor Commissioner's Office. Also, employers in buildings with multiple tenants would be allowed to share a lactation facility.

 The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a child's life and then continued breastfeeding for up to a year after that. 

The bill was authored by Wiener, as well as state Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, and Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens.   Co-authors include Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, and David Chiu, D-San Francisco.