In New York, specific laws and regulations are in place to protect the rights of pregnant and breastfeeding employees in the workplace. All employers and employees should ensure that they understand the ins and outs of these laws accordingly.
These laws are designed to ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding employees aren’t discriminated against and are provided with the necessary accommodations to continue their work safely and in healthy ways.
Pregnancy rights in the workplace
New York law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related conditions. If a woman has a pregnancy-related issue, her employer must make adjustments or provide alternative assignments that accommodate her needs. These accommodations might include:
- Modified work schedules: Adjusting work hours to accommodate medical appointments or physical limitations.
- Job restructuring: Temporarily altering job duties that the pregnant employee cannot perform due to her condition.
- Workplace facility changes: Providing frequent or longer breaks, permission to sit or stand as needed, and accessibility adjustments.
- Temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous positions, if available.
It’s important to note that employers don’t have to provide accommodations if those accommodations will cause an undue hardship on their company.
Breastfeeding rights in the workplace
In addition to pregnancy rights, New York law also provides specific protections for breastfeeding mothers who return to work. These help to ensure the mother can still provide her baby with breastmilk if she desires.
Under the law, employers must provide reasonable unpaid break time or permit using paid break time or meal time each day to express breast milk for a nursing child for up to three years following childbirth. They must allow a reasonable break time at least every three hours, but more or less often as the employee needs. The duration of the break may vary.
Employers must also provide a room or other location close to the work area where an employee can express breast milk in private. This space can’t be a restroom.
It’s important to note that these rights are in place to prevent discrimination and ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding employees aren’t disadvantaged in the workplace. As a result, employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who request or use these accommodations. When discrimination, refusal to accommodate and/or retaliation occur, it’s time for affected workers to explore their rights and options under the law by seeking legal guidance.