Beginning March 18, 2019, New York City employers with four or more employees will be required to provide lactation rooms to employees upon request. Specifically, under two bills recently passed by New York City Council (Int. No. 879-A and Int. No. 905-A), New York City employers must:
- Upon request, provide a lactation room and a refrigerator suitable for breast milk storage within reasonable proximity to the employee’s work area
- Provide a written lactation room policy and notice.
Lactation room requirements
Employers may not designate a restroom as the lactation room. Rather, the room must be (i) a sanitary place (ii) that can be used to express breast milk, and (iii) is shielded from view and free from intrusion. But the requirements do not end there – the room must also have access to an electrical outlet, a chair and a surface for a breast pump or personal items, as well as nearby access to running water. If employers choose to use a multipurpose room as the lactation room, it must be designated as a lactation room only, while being used as such.
If a requested accommodation under this law would impose an undue hardship on an employer (lack of space, lack of resources to convert or create a new room), it must engage in the cooperative dialogue process with the requesting employee, in order to determine whether there is a feasible alternative. Remember – following the cooperative dialogue process, an employer must provide a formal written determination to the requesting employee, granting or denying the request and providing a reason for a denial.