Are mothers allowed to pump during the workday?

Frank S. Clowney III

Being a working mom is hard, especially when you recently gave birth to a child. Not only do you have to achieve your performance goals, but you also need to feed and take care of your baby. In California, you have the right to paid family leave for up to six weeks if you had a natural delivery or eight weeks if you had a C-section. However, the World Health Organization recommends that moms breastfeed their children for at least six months, which is why you have the right to have nursing breaks when you get back to work.

Nursing breaks

The law in California states that every employer must give break time to those moms who need to pump during the workday. Women should try to pump during their regular break, but they can take an additional break if they cannot do it during that time. However, the employer will not pay them for the extra time they take to pump.

Lactation accommodation

Employers must also provide you with a space in which you can pump. It has to be a room other than a bathroom, and it must allow you to express milk in private. The room must also be clean, safe from hazardous materials, and contain a place to sit and place the breast pump. The employer must also provide you with a refrigerator in which you can store the milk.

Denied breaks

An employer may not pay you for pumping time, but they can never deny it. If an employer does not give you time, or a safe place, to pump, you can file a wage claim with the Labor Commissioner’s Office by mail, email or in person. If you do this, your employer will have to pay you one hour at your regular pay rate. They will need to pay you for each time they deny you your rightful breaks. Additionally, you can report your employer to the Labor Commissioner’s Bureau of Field Enforcement (BOFE). The BOFE will investigate your case, and if they find your employer is guilty, they will charge them $100 for each day they denied you pumping time or space.

Protecting your rights

You must never be afraid to ask for your nursing rights, as your employer cannot fire you or discriminate against you for this. If your employer mistreats you or punishes you in any way for exercising your right, you can file a discrimination or retaliation claim against them. By doing this, you may get compensation for your damages and prevent your employer from doing that to another woman again.