BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — It's a new year, and there are new laws that are now in effect. One of those laws is Senate Bill 142, which now requires employers to implement additional lactation accommodations for mothers.
Candance Neal is a new mother who began working at a law firm shortly after she found out she was expecting. With her new job responsibilities, she was concerned about taking maternity leave.
"Being so new at the organization. Just you know how that might be perceived in less than a year's time of me being at that job," Neal said.
Senate Bill 142 requires employers to provide lactation accommodations for mothers in the workplace. Before the new year, laws in the state provided employees who express milk the break time to do so.
This change in the law now requires employers to provide a lactation room or a location that follows requirements such as providing a place for the employee to sit, a surface to place a breast pump and personal items as well as access to a sink and running water.
"There's so much about lactation that requires constant, throughout the day and night and one of those tasks is expressing milk," Christine Staricka, an international board-certified lactation consultant said.
The bill also prohibits employers from firing, discriminating or retaliating against the employee.
Staricka adds that not expressing milk can impact the mother and baby.
"If someone is not expressing milk regularly it impacts their ability to express long-term," Staricka said.
Neal said she is thankful she can spend the first six months with her baby boy.
"Your body is still going through changes and you're still learning your baby, your baby is still getting shots," Neal said. "It's a really great thing that the laws are changing".