Traliant Resources


California Lactation Break Requirements

Employers must provide a reasonable amount of break time to express breast milk. The break times should, if possible, run concurrently with any break times already provided to the employee.

If the lactation break time does not run concurrently with rest break times required under state law, the lactation break time is unpaid. In other words, lactation breaks that extend beyond an employee’s normal break periods may be unpaid.

Employers must pay employees during lactation breaks if:

  • The employee’s lactation break overlaps with a nonexempt employee’s paid break time under California law, such as a rest period.
  • The employee performs work during the lactation break.
  • The employer provides paid breaks, and the employee uses that time to express milk. In that case, the employee must be compensated the same way that other employees are compensated for that type of break time.
  • The employee is exempt and failure to pay is an improper salary deduction.

California law does not contain a specific requirement as to the length of lactation breaks. However, the California DOL has opined that:

  • Nursing mothers typically may need two to three breaks to express breast milk during an eight-hour shift.
  • It typically takes a nursing mother about 15 to 20 minutes to express breast milk, but the total length of the break will depend on additional factors, such as the time it takes to walk to the lactation space, waiting time, time for retrieval and set up of a pump and other supplies and time to clean and store a pump and supplies at the end of the break.

Employers must provide a private location, other than a bathroom, which is shielded from view, free from intrusion and in close proximity to the employee’s work area, to express breast milk. The location may include the place where the employee normally works if it otherwise meets the requirements above.

The lactation location must:

  • be safe, clean, and free of hazardous materials;
  • contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items;
  • contain a place to sit; and
  • have access to electricity or alternative devices needed to operate an electric or battery-powered breast pump.

Employers must also provide access to a sink with running water and a refrigerator suitable for storing milk in close proximity to the employee’s workspace.

An employer with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from any of the lactation location requirements if it can demonstrate that the requirement would impose an undue hardship by causing the employer significant difficulty or expense when considered in relation to the size, financial resources, nature, or structure of the employer’s business.

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only.
It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.