Breastfeeding Rights to Expand in 2023
On December 9, 2022, Governor Hochul signed a bill into law amending New York’s Labor Laws by expanding required accommodations for breastfeeding in the workplace.
Currently, Section 206-c of the New York Labor Law requires private sector employers to provide reasonable unpaid break times “each day” to allow nursing employees to pump breast milk for a period of up to three years following the birth of the nursing child. The Labor Law also requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide nursing employees with a physical location where they can express milk in privacy.
The amendments specify that employers shall provide a nursing employee with a reasonable break “each time such employee has a reasonable need” to express breast milk. The law mandates these breaks to last at least twenty minutes every three hours, although more time must be allowed if needed. Further, the law makes it clear that the room or private location cannot be a restroom and must be close to the employee’s work area, shielded from other individuals’ view, and free from intrusion from other employees or the public. The location must also, at a minimum:
Contain sufficient lighting
Have a chair
Have an open surface
Be close to clean running water
At least one available electrical outlet, if the room is supplied with electricity
Employers with refrigerators are required to allow their use for storing breast milk
If an employer does not have a permanent area, the law states that the employer must make available a particular room or other private location on a temporary basis when the need arises for an employee to express breast milk. The employer must then notify all employees when the room or location is being used for such purposes.
Employers that are unable to meet these requirements are not excused and must still make “reasonable efforts” to provide a private area that is not a restroom near the employee’s work area.
The law also states that the NYSDOL will develop a model policy setting forth the rights of nursing employees, and employers will be required to provide the policy (or their own that complies with the law) to each employee upon hiring and annually thereafter. Employees who return to work following the birth of a child must also be given a copy of the NYSDOL’s written policy.
If you have any questions regarding this article, please contact the Underberg & Kessler attorney who regularly handles your legal matters or Ryan T. Biesenbach, the author of this piece, here, or at (585) 258-2865.
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