The New York City Council passed two laws relating to lactation rooms for breastfeeding mothers. The two laws go into effect on March 18, 2019.
The first, Int. No. 879-A, requires employers with four or more employees to provide lactation room accommodations. This law is accompanied by the second, Int. No. 905-A, requires employers with four or more employees to implement a written lactation room accommodation policy to be distributed to all employees. Here are a few important details employers need to know about the laws:
Definition of a “Lactation Room”
The laws define a lactation room as a “a sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion.” The laws state the lactation rooms must include an electrical outlet, a char, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water.
Access to Lactation Room and Refrigerator
Next, the laws require the lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for storing breast milk be in “reasonable proximity” to the work area of the employee expressing the breastmilk.
Priority Access to Employees Who Express Breast Milk
The lactation room may be used for other purposes, if the priority is given to employees who requires the space to express breast milk. Employers who chose to use the space for other purposes must explicitly notify all employees that preference will be given to those who need it for lactation purposes.
The written lactation room accommodation policy notice must include statements that:
- Inform employees they have a right to request a lactation room
- Explain in detail the process by which an employee may request a lactation room
- Note the employer will respond to the request within a reasonable amount of time (no more than five business days)
- Employers will provide break time for an employee to express breast milk
Model Lactation Policies
The NYC Commission on Human Resources and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has created model lactation room accommodation policies that comply with new legislation. These are available on the NYC Commission on Human Rights website.