New York law requires employers to provide nursing mothers reasonable unpaid break time or paid break time or meal time to express breast milk in the workplace for up to three years after the birth of a child.  Recently, the New York Commissioner of Labor issued guidelines requiring employers to provide written notice of this right to employees who are returning to work following the birth of a child.  Notice can be provided individually to the affected employees, or to all employees, in either a handbook or a posting.  An employee wishing to take this leave must give her employer advance notice. 

The guidelines also provide clarification as to an employer’s requirement under the breast milk expression law.  Employers must make reasonable efforts to provide a private room or location, other than a restroom, for breastfeeding employees to express milk.  This location must be in close proximity to the employee’s work area. 

Additionally, employers are to provide unpaid break time at least once every three hours.  Each break shall be no less than 20 or 30 minutes if the designated private location is not in close proximity to the employee’s work area.  An employer may postpone scheduled unpaid break time for no more than 30 minutes if the employee cannot be spared from her duties until appropriate coverage arrives.

Note: This article was published in the August 2008 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

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