By Lindsey Andreozzi, Esq.
On December 9, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochel signed a law that expands the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (New York State Labor Law Section 206-c) to provide additional requirements for workplace lactation rooms and to mandate all employers to maintain written policies regarding lactation in the workplace. The law takes effect on June 7, 2023.
Lactation Room Requirements
Under the law, employers must provide a designated room (or “other location”) for employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace. If employer provided lactation room is not solely dedicated for the purpose of allowing employees to express milk, the room must “be made available to such an employee when needed and shall not be used for any other purpose or function while in use by such employee.”
The amended law sets forth certain specifications for such designated lactation rooms or locations. Specifically, the room or location must be: (i) in close proximity to the work area; (ii) well lit; (iii) shielded from view; and (iv) free from intrusion from other persons in the workplace or the public. Notably, the room or location provided by the employer cannot be a restroom or toilet stall.
The designated room or location must provide, at minimum: a chair, a working surface, nearby access to clean running water and an electrical outlet (if the workplace is supplied with electricity). If the workplace has access to refrigeration, the employer must extend such access to refrigeration for the purposes of storing the expressed milk.
In addition, all employers are now required to adopt a lactation accommodation policy. The amended law sets forth that the New York State Department of Labor will develop and implement a model written policy. Employers should plan to review that model policy once it becomes available and adopt it or update any existing policies to ensure compliance with the new requirements.
Employers must distribute the lactation policy to: each employee upon hire; employees returning to work following childbirth; and all employees annually.
The amendments also expressly prohibit employers from discriminating or retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law.
Although the amended statewide law comes after New York City’s 2019 legislation implemented that imposed similar requirements for employers (with four or more employees), all employers in the New York state should review their policies and facilities to ensure compliance with the newly amended state law.
Please contact NFC if you have any questions regarding this legislation.