The New York City Council recently passed two bills that seek to enhance and protect the rights of lactating employees in the workplace. Both bills were enacted on November 17, 2018 and are set to go into effect on March 18, 2019.
The first bill, Int. No. 879-A, will require employers with 4 or more employees to provide a lactation room and refrigerator for the storage of breast milk within a "reasonable proximity" to the employee's work area. A lactation room is defined as a "sanitary place, other than a restroom, that can be used to express breast milk shielded from view and free from intrusion and that includes at a minimum an electrical outlet, a chair, a surface on which to place a breast pump and other personal items, and nearby access to running water." While the room does not have to be solely designated for lactation purposes, it must exclusively be used as a lactation room while an employee is expressing milk and employers must notify other employees as to when the room is being used exclusively for the expression of milk. Should the provision of a lactation room pose an undue hardship on an employer, the employer must engage in a cooperative dialogue with the lactating employee to determine what alternative reasonable accommodation might be made available.
The second bill, Int. No. 905-A, will require covered employers to have a written lactation room accommodation policy that meets specific requirements.
Wages across New York State are set to increase again on December 31, 2018. Employers in New York City with more than 11 employee will be required to pay a minimum wage of $15.00 per hour and NYC employers with 10 or fewer employers will have to pay an hourly rate of $13.50. Employers in Long Island and Westchester will have to pay employees at least $12.00, while employers in the rest of the state will have to pay a minimum hourly rate of $11.10. In the fast food industry, employees in New York City will be entitled to an hourly rate of $15.00, while employees the rest of the state will be paid $12.75.
Wages for tipped workers are also set to increase. NYC employers with 11 or more employees will have to pay at least $10.00 per hour, while the rate will be $9.00 for smaller NYC employers. Long Island and Westchester tipped employees will have to be paid at least $8.00 per hour, while those in the rest of the state must receive at least $7.50. The maximum tip credit each employer may claim is the difference between the applicable general minimum wage and the minimum wage for tipped employees. For example, the general minimum wage for large NYC employers will be $15.00 and the minimum wage for tipped employees will be $10.00, so the maximum tip credit will be $5.00.
Finally, we at Lloyd Patel LLP hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy new year.
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