New Workplace Breastfeeding Rules Proposed in San Francisco

San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang on Tuesday announced legislation that would require the city to provide more break time and better facilities to breastfeeding employees who need time and space to pump milk for their children.

Current state and federal laws require employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time and a private space other than a bathroom near the employee's workspace for lactating mothers to pump.

Tang's legislation, co-sponsored by Supervisors Malia Cohen, Scott Wiener, Norman Yee and Eric Mar, would allow employees to use paid breaks and meal times and also request additional unpaid break time.

It would also set a higher standard for lactation spaces, requiring that they be private rooms with a door that can be locked, at least one electrical outlet, comfortable seating, adequate lighting and amenities such as a refrigerator, a sink and hospital grade electric breast pumps, according to Tang.

"The goal of this policy is to remove barriers to women who want to continue with their career while maintaining the health and wellness of their child," Tang said in a statement. "If we are going to ask women to return to work so soon after having a child, we must support this with strong policies that enhance their ability to continue breastfeeding through their child's first year and beyond."

While 60 percent of women with children under the age of 3 are employed, only 16 percent exclusively breastfeed six months after giving birth, according to a 2013 U.S. Centers for Disease Control report. Among mothers who work full time, only 10 percent breastfeed until six months.

The legislation requires the new lactation policy to be distributed to all new employees and to all employees who request parental leave and posted on a city web page. In addition, departments managing new city building and renovation projects will need to consult with the Department of Human Resources to ensure there is sufficient space for lactation.

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