New York City – Human Rights Lactation Accommodation Law
To Pump or Not Pump – It’s not an option, it’s law in NYC.
Beginning March 18, 2019, the New York City Commission on Human Rights will require employers with four or more employees to provide more specific accommodations to nursing mothers who choose to express breast milk while working. The new law requires employers to provide a dedicated lactation space or room the meets following the requirements:
- Be a sanitary space/room, other than a restroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion and is in close proximity to the employee’s work area;
- The space must provide the employee a place to sit, an electrical outlet and a surface to place a breast pump and personal items; and
- Have nearby access to running water and a refrigerator to store expressed breastmilk.
If the space/room is a multi-purpose space, breastfeeding mothers must have priority to the space and this priority must be communicated to all employees. If necessary, a schedule must be distributed to employees, which indicates when the dedicated space is to be used solely for lactation purposes.
In the event the above described lactation room requirements pose an “undue hardship” on the employer, the employer is required to participate in a “cooperative dialogue” with the affected employee(s) to determine if another alternative accommodation is available.
Lactation Accommodation Policy Requirements
In addition to providing a lactation space for employees, the law also requires employers to develop and distribute to all employees, a formal policy regarding the lactation accommodations. The policy must contain the following information:
- Must describe the lactation room accommodations;
- Must provide instructions for the employee to request to use the lactation room or accommodation;
- Must describe the cooperative dialogue process, in the event of “undue hardship;”
- Must include the employer response time to the request, which is five business days;
- Must establish a procedure in the event two or more employees need to use the lactation room at the same time: and
- Must include information regarding breaks (paid or unpaid) to express milk.
Ok, it’s the law, but what do I do now?
Employers are advised to educate themselves about the new law and how it will directly affect their business and employees. Employers should also be prepared to effectively communicate the new law and its requirements in a formal written policy. Although the NYC Commission on Human Rights is expected to release a model policy on March 17, 2019, it important for employers to get ahead in the game to determine what work space/room meets the law’s requirements and to develop a policy and specific procedures required under the law.
To learn more about the NYC Lactation Accommodation Law and/or to get guidance in developing a policy, please contact Inspiring HR for assistance. With a constant focus on HR Done Differently, we simplify and uncomplicate HR for small business every day. Visit our website at www.inspiringhr.com.
This article does not constitute legal advice and there are subtle variations in employment law as it pertains to this topic, depending on where your business operates. It is strongly suggested that you seek consultation or legal counsel before making decisions about policies.