New Breastfeeding Legislation: New York Gives Nursing Employees a Room of Their Own

By: Cristina N. Hyde, JD

On December 9, 2022, Governor Kathy Hochul signed new legislation expanding accommodations provided to private sector employees for expressing breastmilk in the workplace.  Supporting the rights of all New Yorkers to have a safe, hygienic, and convenient place to nurse, Senate Bill S4844B aligns the accommodations that private businesses must provide to nursing employees with those already available to New York State, New York City, and Federal Government employees.

Currently, labor law broadly requires that private employers provide reasonable break times and make reasonable efforts to provide a space for employees to express breast milk.  However, beginning June 7, 2023, the new law requires that upon the request of a nursing employee, all employers must:

  • Provide nursing employees with reasonable break times each time they have a reasonable need to express breast milk for up to three years following childbirth.
  • Designate a room or location to allow employees to pump breast milk that is not a restroom or toilet stall and is:
  • Near to the work area.
  • Well lit.
  • Shielded from view and free from intrusion from other persons.
  • Furnished with a chair, a table, an electrical outlet, and nearby access to running water.
  • Extend access to refrigeration (if present in the workplace) for the storage of expressed milk.
  • Develop, implement, and distribute a written policy regarding the rights of nursing employees to express breast milk at work.

With only a narrow exception for business owners for whom it would create an undue hardship to provide such a room, employers should begin reviewing their policies and employee handbooks soon.

If you have any questions on how S4844B will affect your business or would like help updating your policies and employee handbooks, Campanella Law Office can help.

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