Supporting Lactation Accommodations at Work

By law in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, women are allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location. This means in stores, in restaurants, on the street or anywhere where a mother is permitted to be, and legally no one is allowed to tell them to leave or to feed their child in private.

Lactation Policies & Laws

On March 18th, 2019, NYC Council passed two bills in addition to existing  federal and state laws regarding lactation accommodation policies in the workplace. Prior to March 18, employers were mandated to provide employees with a reasonable number of breaks; and a private sanitary space, other than a restroom, with a chair and flat surface on which to place the breast pump and other personal items, to express breast milk during the workday.

The first new bill states that in addition to a chair and flat surface, NYC employers with four or more employees must provide lactation rooms outfitted with an electrical outlet and refrigerators that are within reasonable distance to work areas so that mothers may express and store breast milk during the workday. Under the new law, employers who cannot provide a lactation room because of undue hardship are “required to engage in cooperative dialogue with affected employees to find a reasonable, alternative accommodation.”

The second bill now requires employers to “establish, and distribute to all new employees, policies describing lactation room accommodations, including the process by which an employee can request such accommodation”.

The policy must:
1. Specify how an employee can submit a request for a lactation room.
2. Require the employer to respond to such a request no later than five (5) business days.
3. Provide a procedure for employees to follow when two (2) or more individuals need to use the lactation room at the same time, including the contact information for any follow-up required.
4. State that the employer shall provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk to comply with Section 2016-c .
5. State that if the request for lactation room poses an undue hardship on the employer, the employer shall engage in a cooperative dialogue.

The New York City Commission on Human Rights, in collaboration with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, has developed and made available a model lactation room accommodation policy and model request form for employers, which can be found here. You will find model policies  for workplaces with dedicated lactation room(s); with a multi-purpose space, other than a restroom, that may be used as a lactation room; and for workplaces with no available space for a lactation room.

Health insurance plans must provide pregnant and postpartum women with lactation support and counseling from trained health care providers as well as certain breastfeeding equipment, such as breast pumps and nursing supplies, at no additional cost. See HealthCare.gov for more information.

Did You Know:

  • Companies that offer lactation support programs increase post-maternity retention rates by almost 50%
  • Mothers who breastfeed their infants experience 50% less one-day absences from work
  • Companies that provide lactation support programs see an ROI of 300%
  • Health insurance plans must provide pregnant and postpartum women with lactation support and counseling from trained health care providers as well as certain breastfeeding equipment, such as breast pumps and nursing supplies, at no additional cost. See HealthCare.gov for more information.

If you would like to provide corporate lactation support services to your employees as a means to remain compliant with new regulations, attract and retain new mothers, increase employee productivity and ensure employee satisfaction, consider the following programs that may make the lives of breastfeeding moms, easier.  MommaWorkMilkStork and Maven which provide services that support breastfeeding/pumping mothers!

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