On Wednesday, New York City Council passed a series of bills dubbed the “Mother’s Day Package” to increase access to diapers and wipes, lactation accommodations in work and city spaces, as well as doula services.
“This package takes a comprehensive approach to truly empowering parents across New York City, addressing significant issues such as lactation accommodations, maternal mortality and childcare,” said New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo who spearheaded the legislation package.
Under the new laws, employers with 15 or more employees will be required to provide lactation rooms as well as refrigerators that allow employees to store breast milk. The city’s Commission on Human Rights will establish a model lactation room accommodation policy, and employers will be required to share these policies with their employees.
In an effort to address the fatality risks of childbirth, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will issue annual reports on maternal mortality and morbidity and a five-year report on maternal mortality that expands upon the findings of the yearly analysis. Additionally, the department will develop a plan to increase the access to doula services to meet the needs of pregnant women, particularly in areas that experience disproportionally high rates of maternal mortality, infant mortality and other poor birth outcomes.
The legislation package also aims to provide childcare services to city employees. The city will establish a working group to study the feasibility of this plan within 12 months, to be followed by a one-year pilot project for a childcare center.
The Department of Citywide Administrative Services is tasked to provide a supply of diapers and baby wipes to meet the needs in subsidized child care centers, family justice centers, domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters.
“This package reinforces the fact that by listening and responding to the needs of mothers and all working parents, we are better able to support all of NYC’s families and communities,” said Cumbo. “Our working mothers need bold policies to address the significant challenges they face in a workforce that has largely proven itself unable to adequately address their needs.”