By Jamie Herzlich, Newsday
Working moms in New York have the right to expanded accommodations for expressing breast milk at their places of employment under recent legislation.
The law, which takes effect June 7, requires all employers to provide a designated location for nursing employees to pump breast milk that includes such amenities as seating, a working space, and nearby access to running water. They also must develop and implement a written policy regarding employee rights when breastfeeding in the workplace.
Smaller employers should start thinking creatively on how they can make accommodations or rethink space to comply, experts say.
“I think certain small businesses may be able to claim an undue hardship as to some of the law’s requirements, but the burden will be on the employer to show the undue hardship,” says Christine Malafi, senior partner and chair of the corporate department at Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP in Ronkonkoma.
If there is a complaint, a resolution will be up to the Department of Labor on a case-by-case basis on the very specific facts involved in each situation, she says.
Some employers in certain circumstances may have to work out a reasonable accommodation such as providing a nursing pod, but if employees work outside, they may not have access to running water with a pod, Malafi says.
But bottom line is all employers have to “start thinking of a space with electricity and privacy where women can go to express breast milk,” says Malafi.
This is backed up by a recent amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act, called the PUMP Act (Providing Urgent Maternal Protections), which on the federal level requires employers to provide a place to express breast milk that’s private from view and free from intrusion for all employees, Malafi says.