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Bill would ensure lactation spaces for working moms

Following in the footsteps of a San Francisco law, state Sen. Scott Wiener on Monday introduced a bill that will make it easier for working moms to continue breastfeeding their children.

Senate Bill 937 would require employers to provide a private lactation space for workers with access to running water, a nearby refrigerator, seating, and a table. The bill would also require employers to distribute the company’s lactation policy to new employees, or when an employee inquiry is received.

New buildings over 15,000 square feet would need to include new lactation spaces as a condition of their building permit under the proposed bill.

Wiener said:

“SB 937 moves us passed requiring women to stay home in order to lactate, or alternatively, to lactate at work in humiliating circumstances like in a bathroom stall or a broom closet or an area with not very much privacy.”

One company in San Francisco is already ahead of the curve by providing three lactation rooms for its employees.

That company is Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service. Katrina Lake, the company’s founder and CEO, said:

“Providing a supporting environment for working mothers is something I personally feel passionate about.”

Lake added:

“Our employee population is 86 percent female so it is vitally important for us to support women in the workplace and to ensure that they are able to return to work after starting a family.”

The Board of Supervisors last year approved legislation which required employers to provide lactation accommodations for employees, and requiring construction of new or renovated buildings to provide lactation facilities.

Supervisor Katy Tang, the sponsor of legislation, said companies like Stitch Fix have been proactive in providing lactation accommodations for employees, but there are businesses and companies that do not think about employee needs like moms returning to work.

Tang said:

“So many moms don’t have the choice to return to work after they have given birth to a child, and so we felt it was really, really important that we set a comfortable atmosphere for new moms returning to work so that it’s not embarrassing to ask for this accommodation because it’s just frankly what new moms need.”

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