Has one of your employees recently returned from maternity leave? Are they asking for time to pump or otherwise express breast milk during work hours? In New York, all employers must follow New York’s lactation accommodation laws.
New York law requires that reasonable unpaid break time (or paid break time, meal time, or both) must be provided to employees to express breast milk for their nursing children. Employers must provide a place (other than a bathroom) that is reasonably close to the employee’s workplace and is shielded and private. This must be provided each day for up to three years after the child’s birth. No employer shall discriminate in any way against an employee who chooses to express breast milk in the workplace.
Employers must provide written notice of the New York lactation accommodation rules to employees who are returning to work following the birth of a child, and their right to take unpaid leave to express breast milk. Notice may be provided individually to employees, or to all employees generally by including the notice in an employee handbook. Posting of the notice in a central location is also permitted.
Employees wishing to make use of this benefit must give the employer reasonable notice. Notice should be given to the employer prior to the employee’s return to work following the birth of a child to allow the employer an opportunity to establish a location and schedule leave time among multiple employees if needed.
In New York City, employers with at least 4 employees must provide lactation rooms, as well as refrigerators, in reasonable proximity to work areas for employees to express and store breast milk. These employers are also required to implement a written lactation room accommodation policy to be distributed to all new employees.
Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers also are required to provide reasonable break time for employees to express breast milk for their nursing child, as frequently as needed, for up to one year after the child’s birth. Employers are also required to provide a place (other than a bathroom) that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public.