In June 2017, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the “Lactation in the Workplace Ordinance.” This was the nation’s first-ever law requiring employers to have a workplace lactation policy that ensures employees get lactation breaks and have access to a “lactation accommodation space.”
This new ordinance, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018, also requires San Francisco employers to provide notice to new employees about their rights under this new law and, in addition, to keep certain lactation accommodation records. All private employers in San Francisco are covered by this new law, regardless of size. You can read the full text of San Francisco’s lactation law here.
In anticipation of the new law’s effective date, San Francisco’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement (OLSE) issued new guidance for San Francisco employers.
— The OLSE issued a policy memo entitled “Legal Requirements and Best Practices,” which is intended to “help employers support breastfeeding employees who are returning back to work. This policy memo makes clear that, for a “lactation space” to be compliant with the new law, that space must be private, free from intrusion, and reasonably close to the employee’s work area. In addition, the space must have a seating area and a table, desk, or other surface for placing a breast pump and the employee’s other personal items. The space must have access to electricity and must have running water and a sink. The space cannot be a bathroom. You can find the OLSE’s policy memo here.
— The OLSE also posted a sample employer “Lactation Accommodation Policy” that is compliant with the new law and that employers can use in employee handbooks or other policy manuals. You can find the OLSE’s sample lactation p0licy here.
— Finally, the OLSE posted their “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ’s) designed to provide employers with critical information about the law. The FAQ’s discuss what employers are covered under the new law, the length of the lactation break, whether the employee must be paid during the break, the details of the lactation space, exemptions to the new law’s requirements, and the employer’s record-keeping obligations. You can read the OLSE’s new FAQs here.