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Could Breastfeeding Areas Cost Your Business?

By Jason Beahm on February 02, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

With new times come new laws. Often the changes are a step forward, though businesses may be concerned that they hurt their bottom line too much. The new laws requiring mandatory breastfeeding areas are no exception.

Breastfeeding is considered a healthy practice for mothers of growing children. However, while most mothers start off breastfeeding after taking parental leave, many of them stop earlier than doctors recommend. According to studies, one of the reasons is a lack of accommodations at work, MSNBC reports.

That brings us to the Affordable Care Act, which amended the Fair Labor Standards Act. Businesses are going to be required to provide mandatory breastfeeding areas in a place other than a bathroom, allow women to breastfeed at work for up to one year, and provide a reasonable amount of time for breastfeeding breaks, under new guidelines issued by the Department of Labor.

Many businesses are concerned about the costs involved in implementing these spaces, as well as lawsuits for alleged non-compliance. Those fears are legitimate, though the risk should be manageable. In addition, employers with less than 50 employees may be exempt from the rule if they can demonstrate an undue hardship to the business caused by compliance.

Undue hardship is determined by looking at the difficulty or expense of compliance for a specific employer, compared to the size, financial resources, nature, and structure of the employer's business, according to a fact sheet issued by the Department of Labor. All employees count, regardless of whether they work in different locations.

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