NYC Lactation Laws Going Into Effect On March 18, 2019

On March 18, 2019, new laws go into effect in New York City addressing more stringent requirements for employers who have employees who wish to express milk, i.e. lactate, while at work.

Lactation Room

The first law requires employers to designate a lactation room (that is not a restroom), which is a sanitary space where employees can express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion. The room must have nearby access to running water, include an electrical outlet and a chair, and provide sufficient surface space to place a breast pump and other personal items. Employers must provide the lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for storing breast milk within reasonable proximity to the employees’ work area. The lactation room may be used for other purposes when not in use for expressing breast milk, but employers are required to notify other employees that the room’s preferential use is as a lactation room. If providing a lactation room results in an undue hardship for an employer, the employer must (a) engage in a cooperative dialogue with the affected employee(s) to determine what other reasonable accommodations might be available, and (b) provide a written final determination to the affected employee(s) that identifies any accommodations granted or denied.

This new law expands on the current mandates under New York State Labor Law, which already required employers to provide reasonable break time to express breast milk for up to three years after childbirth, and to provide a room/location (other than a restroom) to express breast milk in private.

Lactation Accommodation Policy

The second law requires employers to distribute to all new hires a written policy detailing employees’ rights to use a lactation room and the process for requesting the use of the lactation room. The lactation accommodation policy must include the following:

  • Specify the means by which an employee may submit a request for a lactation room;
  • Specify the means by which an employee may submit a request for a lactation room;
  • Provide a procedure to follow when two or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including contact information for any follow-up required;
  • State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk (pursuant to Section 206-c of the New York Labor Law); and
  • State that if the request for a lactation room poses an undue hardship upon the employer, the employer shall engage in the cooperative dialogue.

The new law also requires employers to retain records of requests for a lactation room (including the date of the request, and a description of how the employer resolved the request) for at least three years.

As a result of these new laws, NYC employers should review and update their policies for compliance. Employers with any questions of their obligations under the law should contact the Law Offices of Yale Pollack, P.C. at (516) 634-6340 or ypolllack@yalepollacklaw.com.

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