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What You Need to Know about New York’s Lactation Laws

Breast pumpWhat You Need to Know about New York’s Lactation Laws

New lactation laws went into effect in March 2019 in New York City. The laws stipulate minimum requirements for employers and mandate that there be a written lactation room policy for employees. All employers are also required to create lactation rooms that would be available to employees upon request.

How do these laws affect you if you need space for expressing milk during working hours?

New York City’s lactation laws are two separate companion laws - Int. No. 879-A and Int. No. 905-A. These laws apply to every employer with four or more employees and amend any previous laws.

Under the new laws, employers must provide a compliant room to employees if requested. Companies must also have a lactation policy that addresses issues regarding lactation.

There are two specific requirements in the NYC law, which include:

  • A room dedicated to lactation featuring a chair, an electrical outlet, a surface, and access to running water
  • Refrigerator intended for breast milk storage

These accommodations must be within “reasonable proximity” to affected employees and the room must be sanitary, shielded from view, free from intrusion, and not a restroom.

The room can be used for other purposes, but its sole function must be a lactation room while it is in use. Additionally, the employer must notify other employees that the use of the room for lactation takes priority. Ideally, the room will have a locking door and/or sign to specify the room is in use and the occupant is not to be disturbed.

If an employer deigns it an undue hardship to provide appropriate lactation accommodations, they are required to discuss with the affected employee what options are available. Once an arrangement is determined, there must be written confirmation of the arrangement.

Lawmakers acknowledged that it would rarely cause an undue burden for employers to meet lactation requirements due to the guidance from the https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/lactation.page”>New York City Commission on Human Rights and courts already having interpreted the NYC Human Rights Laws that were in place when the new lactation laws went into effect.

Written Policy Regarding Lactation

In addition to providing private space to accommodate lactating employees, employers must also create and implement a written policy explaining the business’s specific policy on lactation.

All current and new employees must receive this written policy. The policy must include a statement regarding the right to request a lactation room and must:

• Address how the request must be submitted
• Acknowledge that the employer must respond to the request in five business days or less
• Acknowledge that employees must receive a reasonable break time for expressing milk
• Provide information regarding the procedure to be followed when two or more employees need the lactation room at the same time
• Acknowledge that a “cooperative dialogue” must occur between employees and the employer if providing a lactation room would cause an employer undue hardship

Employers are also encouraged to make their policies regarding lactation gender-neutral and avoid terms such as “mother” or “female.”

Employers that already have a policy in place addressing lactation are encouraged to review that existing policy to ensure they are in compliance.

If you have questions about your employer’s lactation policy or you believe there has been a violation of New York’s lactation law, we can help. Contact the NY employment law office Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C. to schedule a free consultation.

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