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NYS Expanding Workplace Accommodations for Lactating Mothers

June 07, 2024

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One of two laws recently passed by NY state expands the rights of nursing mothers in the workplace.

Effective June 19, 2024, NYS employers will now be required to provide 30 minutes of paid break time for employees to express milk for their nursing child, up to as many times per day that they need up to three years after birth.

Under the current law, NYS only requires employers to provide reasonable unpaid break time and a designated private room for employees to express milk for up to three years after giving birth. 

NYS Paid Lactation Break Laws

Under federal law, employers must comply with these new breastfeeding rights at work in New York State. The new lactation break law in New York State will allow employees to take a paid lactation break of up to 30 minutes every time they express breast milk, in addition to other paid lunches or breaks.

Employees must give employers advance notice before returning to the workplace after leave if they need to express breast milk in the workplace. This will give employers and business owners time to adjust schedules if necessary to accommodate lactation breaks as well as make sure a designated lactation room is set up for the employee.

Employees should submit a request to their direct supervisor in writing, and employers must respond back to the employee in writing within five days of the request and communicate when a room has been designated for breast expression.

What Do Lactation Accommodations Mean for Employers?

New York employers need to be aware of these updates to ensure compliance with these labor laws that aim to provide a supportive environment for nursing mothers. Employers should also clearly communicate these changes to their management staff.

Employers must update their lactation break policy to reflect these changes on the effective date. When it becomes available, the updated poster “Policy on the Rights of Employees to Express Breast Milk in the Workplace” on the Department of Labor's (DOL) website, describing the rights of employees, will also need to be posted in the workplace.

These new New York State lactation break laws must be carefully followed, with nursing employees given the necessary daily amounts of paid breaks of 30 minutes to express breast milk.

Where Should Employees be Allowed to Express Breast Milk?

Currently, it is already required that employers provide a lactation room for employees to use when expressing breast milk. If businesses have more than one nursing employee, there doesn’t need to be a separate room per nursing employee; the lactation room can be used by all employees expressing breast milk. 

But it can’t be just any room; the lactation room must be either a specific room or a designated location, and it must meet these requirements:

  • It cannot be a bathroom. The lactation room cannot be a restroom or a toilet stall.
  • Located closeby. This area must be close by and within walking distance of the employee’s work space. 
  • Well lit. Employers must provide a room with good natural or artificial light.
  • Privacy. The area must be shielded from view and free from any intrusion. This should include a curtain or blinds for a window and either a lock or a sign for the door.
  • Running water. Employees must have access to clean, running water close to the room.
  • Proper furniture. The lactation room must include a chair and either a desk, a small table, or some other flat counter surface.
  • Electricity. Employees must have access to an electrical outlet inside the lactation space. 

Keep in mind that these room requirements are already in effect for employers. So if your business has nursing employees and isn’t already compliant with this, you should immediately make the necessary changes to ensure your lactation room meets compliance. It’s important to note that businesses only need to have a dedicated lactation space if they have a nursing employee who has informed their employer in writing of their need to express breast milk in the workspace.

Complying with NYS Lactation Accommodation Updates 

It’s essential that employers make the necessary changes to ensure compliance with the new NYS paid lactation break law and the upcoming NYS prenatal leave policy. Businesses will have to update their handbook to include the new paid prenatal leave policy and its legal effective date.

Organizations should also communicate with their managers about the new paid prenatal leave entitlement, paid lactation breaks, and double check to ensure they’re meeting 

Contact Complete Payroll for assistance in updating your policies and educating your management team!


DISCLAIMER: The information provided herein does not constitute the provision of legal advice, tax advice, accounting services or professional consulting of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, tax, accounting, or other professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation and for your particular state(s) of operation.

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