top of page

Enhancing Workplace Rights: New York's Transition to Paid Lactation Breaks

The recently enacted New York State budget for fiscal year 2024 introduces pivotal changes to leave and accommodation laws, demanding attention from employers statewide. Effective June 19, 2024, New York has mandated paid lactation breaks, replacing previous provisions under the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act of 2007. This update requires employers to provide paid break time specifically for expressing breast milk, a shift aimed at supporting nursing mothers in the workplace. The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) has updated its mandatory model policy: New York State Department of Labor’s Policy on the Rights of Employees to Express Breast Milk in the Workplace.


For details on another significant obligation, paid leave for prenatal care effective January 1, 2025, please refer to our earlier article, New York Leads with Pioneering Paid Prenatal Leave Policy.


For additional information regarding paid lactation breaks and to understand how this could impact your business, please contact our Managing Partner, Richard Liu, at richard.liu@consultils.com


working mom


Paid Lactation Breaks


New York's transition to paid lactation breaks marks a significant stride in supporting workplace rights, particularly for nursing mothers. Since the amendment to Section 206-c was enacted, the NYSDOL has provided updated guidance to assist employers in complying with the new requirements.


Key Points to Note:

  • Paid Break Time Requirement: Employers must provide 30 minutes of paid break time specifically for expressing breast milk. This time is separate from regular breaks or meal times.

  • Frequency:  Employers are required to accommodate employees with paid breaks as often as they reasonably need to express breast milk. The number of breaks necessary may vary based on individual circumstances. Employees can also use other paid rest or meal breaks for additional time beyond the mandated 30 minutes “each time such employee has a reasonable need to express breast milk.” While there is no definitive guidance on the interpretation of “each time,” it is expected to permit employees to take multiple paid breaks throughout the workday.

  • Duration of Benefit: Employees may utilize this paid break time for up to three years following childbirth.

  • Non-Discrimination: Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who choose to express breast milk in the workplace. This includes not penalizing them for taking the allotted break time.

  • Work Adjustments: Employees cannot be required to work before or after their shift to make up for the time used for expressing breast milk.

  • Remote Work: Employees who work remotely have the same rights to paid time off for expressing breast milk as those who work in-person.

  • Room Request Process: Employees must submit a written request to their employer for a designated room or location to express breast milk. Employers must respond to this request in writing within a specified timeframe, typically within five days.

  • Lactation Room Requirements:

    • Employers must provide a private space that is not a restroom or toilet stall.

    • The room or location must be near the employee's work area, with good light, privacy, and free from intrusion.

    • It should have accessible, clean water and an electrical outlet if available.

    • Furnishings must include a chair and a flat surface like a desk or table.

  • Notification: Employers must inform all employees in writing when a designated room or other location has been established for breast milk expression.


This update under Section 206-c of the New York Labor Law emphasizes equity and support for working parents, ensuring that nursing mothers can maintain their professional responsibilities while fulfilling their parental duties without financial penalty.


What Employers Need to Do


As the transition to paid lactation breaks has taken effect on June 19, 2024, employers must take proactive steps to ensure compliance and support for their employees. Here’s what employers need to do:


  • Update Policies and Procedures: Revise internal policies to reflect the new requirement for paid lactation breaks. Distribute updated policies to employees upon hire, annually, and upon their return to work after childbirth.

  • Update Your Handbook: Review and revise your employee handbook to align with the updated breastfeeding accommodations policy. Ensure that language regarding working hours, breaks, and overtime eligibility reflects the new legal requirements.

  • Provide Accommodations: Establish a private room or space for employees to express breast milk that meets the requirements outlined by the NYSDOL.

  • Train Managers and Supervisors: Educate managers and supervisors on the new requirements and their responsibilities in accommodating employees who need to express breast milk. Ensure they understand the importance of maintaining privacy and respecting employees' needs.


For additional information regarding paid lactation breaks and to understand how this could impact your business, please contact our Managing Partner, Richard Liu, at richard.liu@consultils.com.


 
Richard Liu

Richard Liu, Esq. is the Managing Counsel of ILS. He serves clients as a management-side defense lawyer specializing in employment and business litigation. Richard is also an expert on litigation prevention and compliance. He regularly advises Fortune 500 companies and startups on employment, labor, and commercial matters.


Email: richard.liu@consultils.com | Phone: 626-344-8949


*Disclaimer: This article does not constitute legal opinion and does not create any attorney-client relationship.

Commentaires


bottom of page