Two bills are making their way through the California State Legislature that would expand requirements for lactation accommodations at the workplace.  We believe that one, if not both, of these bills will make it to the Governor and have a good chance at being signed.  With that in mind our industry is moving to support AB 1976 (Limón-D; Santa Barbara) which is based on current federal/state law while explaining while opposing SB 937 (Wiener; D-San Francisco) as we do not believe it is the best route to go because it would trigger millions of dollars unnecessary construction expenses.

AB 1976 requires employers’ already-required “reasonable efforts” to provide a room or location for lactation consists of providing something other than a toilet stall or bathroom. (by deleting “toilet stall” and inserting “bathroom” in the statute).

Our industry has indicated we would SUPPORT this measure if it would simply include a “hardship exemption” for those workplaces that do not have the ability to provide separate space.

An example of a workplace that might need such an exemption would be a multi-tenant industrial building where workspaces have no offices.  Such space is typically occupied by the following type of businesses:  Small manufacturers; distributors; auto repair; landscape service companies; plumbers; HVAC repair companies, etc.

There is no way that these tenants or property owners could comply thus they will need a hardship exemption.

In Southern California alone, about 1.2 billion SF of industrial space of this type.  Most of it was built before the year 2000 and we would estimate about half of the base is small tenant spaces ranging from 500 SF to 50,000 SF.

Ironically, *If* there was a lactating mother working in such an environment, the bill would make it illegal for them to not use the safest place in the work area, the bathroom.

The other bill, SB 937 would more substantively change existing lactation accommodation requirements, by requiring a lactation room to be safe, clean, and free of toxic or hazardous materials, contain a surface to place a breast pump and personal items, contain a place to sit, and have access to electricity and water.  The bill would exempt employers with fewer than 50 employees that can show that the requirement would impose an undue hardship.

Cost estimates to comply range from $30K to $105K for an existing building that must create new space.  We think this is not the right approach to the issue and hope the legislature will stop this measure.

We will keep you posted on both measures.

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