Governor Kathy Hochul recently signed a bill to amend the New York State Labor Law and expand legal protections for nursing employees in the workplace. The new law is set to become effective May 31, 2023.
Employers have existing obligations under federal and state law to provide reasonable paid or unpaid breaks to nursing employees, for the purpose of expressing milk, for up to three years following childbirth. The laws also prohibit discrimination and retaliation against any employee who exercises this right to express milk in the workplace.
Under the amended law, employers will also be required to provide nursing employees with a private room or location, other than a restroom, for the purpose of expressing milk. These obligations are similar to those already in effect in New York City.
The amendment requires that the room be:
- in close proximity to the work area;
- well lit;
- shielded from view;
- free from intrusion from other employees, customers, or members of the public;
- equipped with at least a chair and a small table; and
- near access to running water and an electrical outlet.
Only employers who can establish that providing such a room would impose undue burden may be exempt from this requirement. In addition, employers must also develop a written policy in accordance with these employment law requirements, and distribute the policy to employees.