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What are my rights at work as a breastfeeding mother?

Women who have a baby and choose to breastfeed often worry about having to go back to work. Some women might consider not returning to work and instead stay home with their baby. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that they are worried about how they will pump milk while they are at work.

Fortunately, New York law provides specific protections for women who need to pump breast milk while they are at work. This might come as a surprise to some women, however, it is very important for all employees and employers to know.

What employees are covered by the New York breast pumping law?

All employees breastfeeding a child who is 3 years old or younger can enjoy the protection that the New York pumping law provides. This law is applicable to all employers in the state, including private and public employers. Employers have to let employees know about this right with a written notice. This can be in the form of a letter, a statement in the employee handbook or on a poster board.

How do I make sure I can pump at work?

You need to let your employer know ahead of time that you will need to pump at work. Ideally, you will let the employer know before you come back from maternity leave. This gives your employer a chance to figure out how to cover the pumping breaks you will need.

What is a pumping break?

A pumping break is an unpaid break that lasts up to 20 minutes per break. You do have the option of making up the time you use for pumping by coming in early or staying late, as long as that time is when your employer is open for business.

You don't have to take all that time if you don't need it, but your employer would have to give you more than 20 minutes if you need it. Your breaks must occur at least every three hours. You can take a pumping break and a meal break back-to-back if you want. This could mean a 50 minute break if your meal break is 30 minutes and the pumping break is 20 minutes.

Does my employers have to give me a place to pump?

The employer must provide you with a place, which can't be the bathroom, to pump. This place must be private and sanitary. Ideally, it will have a lock on the door, but the employer can provide a sign that clearly notes the area is not open to anyone. The room where you pump must include at least a chair and table.

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