HR Alert

San Francisco Ordinance Requires Break Time and Sufficient Location for Nursing Mothers

Employer Policy and Recordkeeping Requirements Also Apply

San Francisco has enacted a new ordinance that imposes certain obligations on employers regarding nursing mothers. Key highlights of the ordinance are presented below.

Breaks & Location
Private employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate an employee desiring to express breast milk for her child. The break time must, if possible, run concurrently with any break time already provided to the employee. Employee break time that does not run concurrently with the rest time authorized by the applicable Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) wage order may be unpaid.

Private employers also must provide a lactation location (other than a bathroom) in close proximity to the employee's work area that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. The room or other location may include the place where the employee normally works, if it otherwise meets the requirements of the lactation location (section: 3300I.4). Among other things, the employer also must provide, in close proximity to the employee's work area, access to a refrigerator (where the employee can store breast milk) and access to a sink with running water.

Note: The ordinance provides specific rules for multi-purpose lactation locations and multi-tenant buildings. Click here (section: 3300I.4(b)(3)-(4)) for rules concerning these respective provisions.

An employer may establish an exemption from the above requirements (section: 3300I.4 of the ordinance) if the employer can show that such requirement would impose an undue hardship by causing significant expense or operational difficulty when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer's business. Click here (section: 3300I.4(c)) for more information.

Required Employer Policy
Each private employer must develop and implement a policy regarding lactation accommodation. Such policy must meet the elements set forth in section: 3300I.5(a) of the ordinance.

The employer's lactation accommodation policy must be distributed to all employees upon hiring. The employer must also offer a copy of the policy to any employee who inquires about or requests pregnancy or parental leave. If the employer has an employee handbook or set of policies that the employer makes available to employees, the lactation accommodation policy must be included in those materials.

Employers must maintain a record of the initial written request or any update to the initial request for lactation accommodation. Such record must include the employee's name, the date of the request, and a description of how the employer resolved the request.

Employers must retain documentation required under the ordinance for a period of 3 years from the date of the lactation accommodation request.
Creation of Employer Best Practices, Model Policy, and Model Request Form '''
The San Francisco Director of Public Health is expected to create and distribute guidance for employers regarding best practices for lactation accommodation. The San Francisco Office of Labor Standards Enforcement is also expected to create (and make available on its website) a model lactation accommodation policy and a model lactation accommodation request form.

Note: The ordinance also makes certain changes to the City Building Code regarding the specifications and required construction of lactation rooms. Click here (section: 1210.5) for additional information. Employers with questions as to how the ordinance will affect workplace policies and practices should contact a knowledgeable employment law attorney.

The ordinance becomes operative on January 1, 2018. Click here to read the text of the ordinance.

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