Mothers who breastfeed or pump have their own ADA-accessible private...

Mothers who breastfeed or pump have their own ADA-accessible private space in the LIRR concourse at Penn Station. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — A new law will require all private employers to provide the same space and accommodations for expressing breast milk in the workplace that are required for public-sector employers.

Under the law signed Friday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, all employers will have to provide a room or convenient and private space to express breast milk.

The location must have seating, access to running water and electricity and a working space.

Restrooms can’t be used for the spaces.

Companies also must adopt policies that detail the right to pump breast milk in the workplace.

Employers will have to provide “reasonable unpaid break time or permit an employee to use paid break time or meal time” to express milk for a period of up to three years after a birth, the law states.

If the employer has a refrigerator, the employer must provide access to store breast milk, according to the law.

The bill becomes effective in six months.

Private-sector employers only have been required to give reasonable break times and to make reasonable efforts to provide a space for employees to express breast milk.

State law already requires public-sector employers such as schools and government offices to provide such accommodations.

“Women who wish to pump should be encouraged to by having a location in their workplace which is private, clean, secure, and includes access to water and an outlet,” said Assemb. Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), a sponsor of the legislation.

Workplace policies shouldn’t “put women in the position of having to ask for the right to breastfeed or for appropriate accommodations,” Paulin said in a statement.

The State Senate sponsor, Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), said: “No one should ever have to choose between providing for their child and their job … we must continue to ensure that workplaces across New York are accessible and equitable for all.”

Hochul, who often has spoken of the difficulties she faced in the workforce as a young mother, said, “by requiring employers to provide quality accommodations, this legislation will help employees feel comfortable and respected when breastfeeding.”

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