NYS DOL Issues Updated Guidance for Lactation Break Law Effective June 19, 2024

As of June 19, 2024, employers in New York State must provide paid lactation breaks of up to 30 minutes each time an employee needs to express breast milk in the workplace for up to three years following the birth of a child. 

Since June 2023, New York employers have been required to provide reasonable unpaid break times for employees to express breast milk in the workplace and a private room or space for them to do so.  Under the amended law, employers now must provide paid breaks of up to 30 minutes.  Employees may use scheduled paid breaks, mealtimes, or unpaid time if they need more than 30 minutes per break.

The amendment questioned whether employers must provide multiple paid breaks throughout the day.  The New York Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued new guidance and answers to frequently asked questions about the law.  The DOL clarified that employers must provide multiple paid breaks throughout the workday.  Each time the employee reasonably needs to take a lactation break, up to 30 minutes of such break must be paid time.

The DOL also advised that the number of lactation breaks that an employee may need “will be unique to each individual employee”.  Employers cannot require employees to use their scheduled paid breaks, to work during lactation breaks, or to make up the time used for lactation breaks.  Employers may not retaliate against employees for requesting or using time to express breast milk in the workplace.

Employers must inform all employees of their right to lactation breaks at three critical points of employment: (1) when an employee is hired, (2) once per year after hiring, and (3) when an employee returns to work following the birth of a child.  Employers can satisfy the notice requirement by providing employees with the DOL’s Model Policy, which can be found here.

Employees must notify their employer in writing and in advance, preferably before returning to work from maternity or family leave, if they are requesting time and space for lactation breaks. 

The amended state law applies to all employers in New York State.  Employers should also keep in mind the federal PUMP Act and New York City lactation accommodation laws, which protect employees who need to express breast milk in the workplace.

To read more about the amended New York State law, see The Book Report blog post here.

                  If you have any questions about federal, New York State, or New York City employment laws, please contact Chaim Book at cbook@booklawllp.com, Sheryl Galler at SGaller@booklawllp.com, or Nadav Zamir at NZamir@booklawllp.com