New York Enhances Breastfeeding Accommodations in the Workplace

Leah Shepherd By Leah Shepherd December 19, 2022

​New York state recently enacted a law that expands accommodations for nursing mothers. The law adds new requirements that employers must provide a well-lit space each time a worker has a reasonable need to express breastmilk.

Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the law on Dec. 9. It will take effect on June 7, 2023.

New York state law already guarantees employees the right to take breaks to pump breastmilk at work for up to three years following the birth of a child. New York City also has local laws on breastfeeding accommodations. Employers cannot retaliate against workers for using breastfeeding accommodations.

We've gathered articles on the news from SHRM Online and other media outlets.

Clean Space

The new law requires employers to provide a convenient and private space with seating, water and electricity.

"Every nursing mother deserves access to a safe, hygienic, and convenient space to pump in the workplace," Hochul said. "By requiring employers to provide quality accommodations, this legislation will help employees feel comfortable and respected when breastfeeding."

(ABC7 New York)

Not a Bathroom

The pumping location cannot be a restroom or toilet stall. It must be close to the work area, well-lit, shielded from view and free from intrusion from other people in the workplace. Employers also must provide a chair, a working surface and access to clean, running water. An electrical outlet and refrigeration must be provided if the workplace has access to those amenities. Employers must develop a written breastfeeding policy to be given to each employee upon hire and to those returning to work following childbirth.

(HR Dive)

Bipartisan Support

State lawmakers approved the bill sponsored by state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin with bipartisan support in May.

"Nursing mothers deserve the same health care protections and accommodations, regardless of where they work," Paulin said. "No one should ever have to choose between providing for their child and their job, and we must continue to ensure that workplaces across New York are accessible and equitable for all."

(New York Post)

Congressional Action

In October, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand protections for nursing mothers. The U.S. Senate has not passed it yet. It would expand federal rules that require employers to allow reasonable break time and space other than a bathroom for nursing employees to pump breastmilk. So far, the federal rules do not apply to workers who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act, but this bill would apply to them.

(SHRM Online)

State Laws

State-level lactation-accommodation laws have become more specific in recent years, and as employers work to create inclusive workplaces, many businesses want to be more welcoming to nursing mothers returning to their jobs. More and more states are weighing in, and a majority of states now have laws specifically addressing lactation accommodation in the workplace. A company may consider providing paid breaks and lactation rooms as part of a supportive breastfeeding policy, even if the law doesn't require it.

(SHRM Online)



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