Under the ordinance:
- Break Time. Employers within the geographical boundaries of San Francisco must provide a reasonable break time and a lactation location for all employees desiring to express breast milk. The break time, if possible, should be provided concurrently with any break time already provided to employees.
- Lactation Location. Under the new Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance, the “lactation location” provided must be a space other than a bathroom that is in close proximity to the employee’s work area, and must be shielded from view and free from intrusion from co-workers and the public. Additionally, the ordinance states that the lactation location must “be safe, clean, and free of toxic or hazardous materials; contain a surface to place a breast pump and other personal items; contain a place to sit; and have access to electricity.” The employer may satisfy the lactation location requirement by designating a room that is used for other purposes, provided that lactation accommodation takes priority.
- Plumbing Requirements. The ordinance further requires employees to have access to a refrigerator and a sink with running water in close proximity to the employee’s work area.
- Written Policy. The Lactation in the Workplace ordinance requires employers to develop and implement a written Lactation Accommodation Policy. The policy, which must be distributed to all employees upon hiring, must notify employees of their right to request a lactation accommodation and identify a process for employees to request an accommodation.
- Undue Hardship Defense. The ordinance provides for an undue hardship exemption for when the employer can show significant expense or operational difficulty in complying with the ordinance. However, if the employer invokes this exemption and denies an accommodation request, the employer must provide the employee a written response identifying the basis for the employer’s denial of the request.
- Enforcement. San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement will begin enforcing the ordinance and issuing warnings starting January 1, 2018, and may begin imposing penalties up to $500 per violation starting January 1, 2019.
All other employers in California and beyond should take this opportunity to refresh their memory of California and federal law to ensure compliance. The language of California law can be found here (LINK), and federal law here (LINK).
If you have any questions about the matters discussed in this issue of Compliance Matters, please call your firm contact at (818) 508-3700 or visit us online at www.brgslaw.com .