SF supes give boost to breastfeeding moms

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is making sure employers in The City are providing a clean, private and safe space for mothers returning to work after giving birth who want to pump breast milk.

Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance that spells out what items employers must provide in the private space, which includes providing a chair, a surface area to place the breast pump, and  an electrical outlet nearby.

While the ordinance does not require employers to have a permanent lactation space, a sink with running water and a refrigerator must also be nearby the employee’s workstation.

Employers must now have a lactation policy and must hand out the policy to new hires or to employees requesting parental leave under the ordinance.

The ordinance will also require any tenant improvements in buildings over $1 million and includes 15,000 square feet of employee space to include lactation rooms.

Before supervisors approved the ordinance, Supervisor Katy Tang who is the sponsor of the ordinance, said:

“We as the Board of Supervisors are on the brink of passing what I think is our nation’s strongest lactation policy in the country to really support our women who want to return work after having a child.”

State and federal laws requiring employers to provide a private space for employees to pump breast milk exist, though Tang said her ordinance strengthens the accommodation requirements.

Julia Parish, an attorney for Legal Aid at Work, said in a statement that many moms stop breastfeeding before they want to because they are unaware of their rights or encounter problems pumping milk in the workplace:

“This ordinance will empower women and help guide both employers and employees through transitions back to work.”

The ordinance takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.