NYC’s “Parental Empowerment” Bills Become Law

Effective March 18, 2019, the New York City Human Rights Law will be amended requiring New York City employers with 15 or more employees to provide their employees with reasonable unpaid or paid break time and a private space to express milk.  Under the new laws, employers will also be required to notify employees about their lactation rights in a written policy.

As previously reported, the New York City Council recently passed the “Parental Empowerment” package of bills, which would require employers in New York City with 15 or more employees to provide a “lactation space” and “lactation accommodation” for employees who need to express and store breast milk. 

Specifically, employers will be required to designate a private, sanitary place that is not a restroom for purposes of expressing milk. The lactation room must include a space to place a breast pump for employees needing to express breast milk. Employers will also be required to ensure that the lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage are in a reasonable proximity to an employee’s work area.

In addition, the new law will require employers to develop, implement and distribute to all new hires a written policy regarding the provision of a lactation room. The policy would have to include a statement that employees have a right to request a lactation room, identify the appropriate process for doing so and provide guidance for what to do if two or more persons need the room at the same time. 

The law was enacted on November 17, 2018, after Mayor Bill de Blasio failed to sign or veto legislation passed by the New York City Council. After a bill is passed by the New York City Council, it is presented to the Mayor, who has 30 days to either sign the bill into law, veto the bill or take no action. If the Mayor doesn’t sign or veto the bill within 30 days, it becomes law.

The City Commission on Human Rights will establish and make available a model policy for employers before the effective date. It also may promulgate additional rules. We will continue to monitor developments of the new law and will update you.