California employers are currently required to provide a reasonable amount of break time to accommodate nursing employees who want to express breast milk—and to provide nursing employees with the use of a room (or other location) that's close to the employee’s work area where the employee can express breast milk in private. The space can't be a toilet stall.
A new law, AB 1976, effective January 1, 2019, will instead require employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a private area to pump that is not a bathroom, i.e. the entire bathroom area (not just the bathroom stall) will no longer meet your duty to provide a private area for pumping.
Some employers may not have an available permanent private area for pumping due to operational, financial, or space limitations. In these circumstances, the employer will be in compliance if it provides a temporary location that is private and free from intrusion, meets all other requirements, and is used only for lactation purposes while an employee is pumping breast milk.
Businesses can apply for an exemption with the Department of Industrial Relations if they can show that making a space other than a bathroom available is an undue hardship.
Need help understanding how new employment laws may impact your business? Let CEA help! Join us for one of our upcoming 2019 Labor Law Update events.