New York City Employers Must Offer Lactation Rooms

Lactation RoomThe City of New York has passed two bills (Int. No. 879-A & Int. No.905-A) that amend the administrative code of the City of New York to expand protections for nursing mothers. Under current law, employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, near the work area, where an employee can express milk in privacy. Effective March 17, 2019, employers must provide a lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage and provide a written lactation room policy and notice.

Int. No. 879-A

Under this new law, New York City employers with four or more employees will be required to provide lactation rooms to employees upon request, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship. The lactation room must be located within reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area, and within close proximity to running water. Lactation room is defined as “a sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion and that includes at minimum an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water.” If the room is used for other purposes, the employer must provide notice to other employees that the room is given preference for use as lactation room. If providing a lactation room imposes an undue hardship, the employer and employee requesting the accommodation must engage in a cooperative dialogue. The employer will have to issue a final written determination to the employee that identifies whether the accommodation is granted or denied.

Int. No. 905-A

New York City employers with four or more employees will be required to create and implement a written lactation room policy, which must be distributed to all employees upon hiring. The policy must:

  • specify the means by which an employee may submit a request for a lactation room;
  • require that the employer respond to a request for a lactation room within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed five business days;
  • provide a procedure to follow when two or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including contact information for nay follow up required;
  • state that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk; and
  • state that if the request for a lactation room poses an undue hardship on the employer, the employer shall engage in a cooperative dialogue to determine whether there is a feasible alternative.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights in collaboration with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene must develop a model lactation room policy that conforms to the law’s requirements, as well as a model lactation room request form, both of which are to be available on the commission’s website.

Make sure to visit our website for new updates on these two new laws.