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Do I have to provide space, money or time for a breastfeeding employee?

November 3, 2016
 
Question:

Hello Jennifer,

One of my employees just returned from having a baby and plans on breastfeeding.  Do I have any requirements as an employer?  My practice is located in New York, if that matters.  

Thanks in advance!

Dr. P

Answer:

Good question, and it is relevant you are in NY because most states have specific laws.  I asked Michael Foster, Esq. to look into this and this is what he pulled - 

New York State passed legislation in 2007 that protects nursing mothers who return to the workplace.  The law requires employers to provide uncompensated breaks for women to express milk or nurse their children for up to a period of three years.  This law also bars an employer from discriminating against an employee exercising this right.  In addition, the new law also requires employers to make 'reasonable efforts' to provide a room or other location where the employee can express breast milk privately.  Labor Law, Article 7, Section 206-c, as enacted by A.B 1060, L. 2007.  

Under Federal law, The Federal Labor Standards Act has been amended to require employers to provide "reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk." Employers are also required to provide 'a place other than a bathroom that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public, which may be used by an employee to express breast milk’. See section 4207 of the Patient Protection and affordable Care Act, Public Law 111-148.  

So, you have to give the employees time to express milk and somewhere private to do it.  You do not have to pay if the time is taken other than on already authorized breaks.  

For additional information on employers responsibilities related to employees breastfeeding in the workplace in New York State check out: https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/wp/LS702.pdf.

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