Effective March 18, 2019 - NYC Employers Must Provide Lactation Rooms and Lactation Room Accommodation Policies

Effective March 18, 2019, Sections 8-102 and 8-107(22) of the New York City Administrative Code will be amended to require employers in New York City with four or more employees to (1) provide a designated lactation rooms for employees and (2) implement a lactation room accommodation policy.

Lactation Accommodation Requirements

All New York City employers with four or more employees must have a “Lactation Room,” which is defined as “a sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express milk shielded from view and free from intrusion and that includes at minimum an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water.”

In addition, the lactation room must be in reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area and the employer must provide the employee with the ability to us a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage that is in reasonable proximity to such employee’s work area. Covered employers do not necessarily have to build an entirely new room devoted to lactation breaks; they are permitted to use an existing multipurpose room, provided that the room is reserved only for lactation during the time an employee is using it for that purpose. The employer also must provide notice to other employees that the room is given preference for use as a lactation room.

Where providing a lactation room would pose an “undue hardship,” an employer must engage in a cooperative dialogue with a nursing mother to determine what alternate accommodation(s) may be available. Following such a dialogue, a firm must issue a written determination identifying any accommodation(s) granted or denied.

Lactation Policy Requirements

New York City employers also must implement a Lactation Room Accommodation Policy, and distribute it to all new hires. The new policy must:

(1) Specify the means by which an employee may submit a request for a lactation room;
(2) Require that the employer respond to a request for a lactation room within a reasonable amount of time not to exceed five business days;
(3) Provide a procedure to follow when two or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including contact information for any follow up required;
(4) State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk; and
(5) State that if the request for a lactation room poses an undue hardship on the employer, the employer shall engage in a cooperative dialogue.