Do all New York City employers need to offer a lactation room to employees?
With ever-shifting laws, it is critical that New York City employers stay abreast of new legal developments. Recently, New York City adopted two new laws pertaining to lactation rooms for employees. These laws will go into effect on March 18, 2019, and employers should start preparing now to implement the new laws. Our NYC business law lawyers explain the new lactation room policies and how you can ensure compliance below.
NYC Employers Must Provide a Private Lactation Room
Currently, New York City employment laws require that employers make reasonable efforts to provide employees with a private lactation room. Now, the new law will require employers to offer employees a suitable lactation room. The room must be sanitary, not be a restroom, and offer employees a place to express milk that is free from others. At the very least, a lactation room must include access to running water, an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface to support the breast pump, and a refrigerator to store breast milk.
Per the new law, an employer can utilize a room with another function as the lactation room, but when an employee is using the room to express milk, then it cannot be used for any other purpose. Further, the room must be given preference for use as a lactation room. Employers who feel they cannot provide a lactation room will need to prove that doing so imposes an undue hardship. Further, the employer must work with the employee to attempt to provide other accommodations. It appears the law will apply to any employer with 15 or more employees, but further guidance on the matter should be forthcoming.
In addition to providing the room itself, New York City employers will need to implement a written policy concerning the lactation room. The policy should include a notice to employees of their right to the room and an explanation of the process of requesting access to the room. Employers should include policies regarding what will occur when more than one employee needs the room.
Now is the time for employers to review their workplace to determine how they will accommodate employees in need of a lactation room. Employers should consult with a business law attorney now for assistance with complying with the new lactation related laws in New York City.